In a quirk of scheduling, Charlotte and Miami will face off in back to back games. One is the championship of the Charleston tournament, the other is a prearranged game, still associated with the tournament, a sort of fail safe in case these two didn't meet in the finals.
So what better way to prepare for this unusual series? A little question and answer session with State of the U, the Miami SBNation site.
Thanks to Jerry for taking the time to do this while Miami was trying to remember that it was a football school. We also helped preview Charlotte for them, in case you aren't up to speed on CUSA.
1. A lot of the success of Miami has been due to the two transfers. What has been the reaction to the two newcomers so far?
SOTU: Angel Rodriguez might be the most popular man on campus (check back with me after the completion of this UVA football game). Seriously though, I think UM fans feel incredibly blessed to have two such talented transfers on the roster. That is one way to rebuild a program in a hurry. Sheldon McClellan has been even better than advertised, doing more on the court than just scoring. His rebounding, passing, and defense have been very pleasant surprises. And if the All-American teams were announced today, there is little doubt Rodriguez would be the PG named on most ballots.
2. How big is a win over a team like Florida for this Miami team? Is that the kind of game that makes the season?
SOTU: Miami was very lucky to catch UF when they did as the Gators were very short handed. Nonetheless I think this win does a lot for UM's confidence, not to mention their RPI and SOS. Does it make the season? That's a bit of an overstatement considering they have beat UNC four times in a row, and own a win over Duke in two of the past three seasons.
3. Miami wasn't expected to do much in the ACC. Does this start change things? Are the preseason rankings just bunk?
SOTU: I personally picked the 'Canes to finish 8th in the ACC. That was more of a testament to how good the conference is than a indictment of the team UM has. Certainly people are taking notice, and Miami will likely crack the next AP top 25 with a win tonight. So in a nutshell, the start absolutely changes perception.
4. With two games in a couple of days against Charlotte, what do you do differently in this first one that you would normally against a team you play once? Do you think Miami is saving anything?
SOTU: Miami head coach Jim Larranaga is the master of making adjustments on the fly. That being said, if something works he is known to go to it over and over and over (see Shane Larkin 2012 high ball screens). With all due respect to Charlotte and their staff, Coach L is often an advantage for Miami when they match up with the Coach K's, Boeheims, and Roy Williams of the world. Facing the same team two games in a row presents a unique challenge, but this coaching staff will come up with wrinkles to give the Hurricanes the best chance to win both games. Charlotte will need to beat Miami on the court to win one or both games.
5. Who wins and why?
SOTU: I like the Hurricanes. I watched the 49ers win over South Carolina and came away impressed with their grit and determination. But Miami is getting contributions from all over the place. Rodriguez and McClellan are the obvious stars, but Manu Lecomte is also playing at a very high level. Tonye Jekiri is rebounding and defending like a man possessed. Omar Sherman and James Palmer look like seasoned vets rather than true freshman. With so much balance I like the 'Canes 65-50.