March Madness: Miami's guide to surviving the ACC Tournament
Miami earned the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament after putting together a tremendous regular season this year.
The Hurricanes are set to face No. 13-seeded Boston College in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. The Eagles upset No. 5-seeded Wake forest in overtime on Wednesday.
Miami is likely in the Field of 64 regardless of the outcome vs. Boston College, but picking up another win or two would certainly solidify its place in the committee’s seed list. As of now, there’s a (relatively) clear path for Miami to at least make the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.
Here’s three things Miami needs to do in order to make a big run in the conference tournament:
Fix the defense
Miami’s defense has — statistically — been one of the worst units in the entire conference this season. The Hurricanes’ defense ranks No. 150 nationally per KenPom, which is dead last amongst ACC teams with postseason aspirations. Miami has made up for it with a top-20 offense this season, but a deep run in the ACC Tournament will require at least some defensive improvement.
Feed Kameron McGusty
Offensively, Miami has its formula. The Hurricanes start four guards and a big man in Sam Waardenburg (more on him later). Leading the guards is senior Kameron McGusty, who earned first-team All-ACC honors earlier this week. McGusty is as experienced — he’s been in college basketball since 2016-17 and played alongside Trae Young at Oklahoma the next season— and productive as it gets.
McGusty is averaging 17.5 points per game this season, which easily marks a career high. If he’s gets into a rhythm offensively, Miami can beat almost anyone in the country in March.
Get Sam Waardenburg going
Waardenburg has scored in double figures in five of Miami’s last six wins. He’s scored just 10 points on 14 shots in losses over the same span of games.
As a big who can shoot, Waardenburg could create matchup problems for teams in the ACC Tournament — and even later in March. The better he plays offensively down the stretch, the further Miami will go.
Miami faces Boston College at 2:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.