Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

Miami Hurricanes' brush off No. 1 NCAA snub

GREENSBORO, N.C. — From the packed and rowdy hotel suite, Jim Larranaga quietly stood up with a quick message.

His Miami players were cheering the No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed, but his face was straight.

"We have a lot of work to do," he said while stepping into the quiet hallway.

The surreal Sunday had taken another turn when the Hurricanes were paired with Pacific in Friday's NCAA second-round game in Austin, Texas. Earlier, they celebrated the school's first ACC title with a win over North Carolina that set up an unprecedented seeding.

Never before had an ACC regular-season and tournament champion landed anything but a No. 1. But NCAA selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski said Gonzaga ended up "just ahead of them," on the CBS broadcast.

Miami senior Kenny Kadji was tempered in his celebration of the seeding. Other teammates appeared disappointed when the brackets filled out.

"We've been the underdogs all year, all season and it worked out well for us," Kadji said. "I wouldn't call it disrespect, but I guess we'll take it like that."

The Hurricanes will open against Big West champion Pacific, which has played in the NCAA Tournament eight times but last appeared in 2006.

Drawing the Friday-Sunday bracket was huge, Larranaga said, considering the brutal three games it took to claim the ACC title. That, he said, was more important than landing a No. 1 seed.

"I couldn't care less," he said. "The (NCAA selection) committee has a very challenging job to figure out who should be the No. 1 seeds and where they should play. I'm more happy that we play on Friday than about any seeding."

The No. 2 seeding matches that of UM's 1998-99 team that was eliminated in the second round by Purdue.

The Hurricanes, making their first NCAA appearance since 2008, seemed a contender for one of the four top seeds awarded Sunday, but those went to Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga.

A team that had impressed Tar Heels coach Roy Williams so much that he waited outside Miami's locker room after Sunday's game to congratulate players and coaches wasn't quite considered top seed-worthy.

"We don't take that as any disrespect at all," senior center Julian Gamble said. "I mean we're a two-seed, which is one of the top eight teams in the country. It's a lot of respect, in that aspect."

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