No. 7 Miami (Fla.) passed its stiffest remaining test on Wednesday night, and is now one step closer to an ACC regular season title.
The Hurricanes defeated Notre Dame on the road 68-50 to move within a single win of claiming at least a share of the ACC title. For the second-straight game, Angel Rodriguez led the way, scoring 19 points and dishing out five assists. He largely outplayed his counterpart, potential All-ACC point guard Demetrius Jackson, who only scored seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Rodriguez was the catalyst on offense, but it was the overall defensive performance that ultimately was the key. The Canes held the No. 1 offense in the entire country to only 34 percent shooting from the field and 18 percent from the 3-point line. With Jackson largely off of his game, the Irish just didn’t have any way to create consistent offense. Zach Auguste did score 18 points, but in the end the team just couldn’t get clean looks from the outside due to the overall length.
The Irish should still be in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament, but their seed certainly is slipping with losses now in three of their previous four games. On the other side though, the tide is rising for Miami. The Canes still have a legitimate shot to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But before they can take care of that business, they’ll need to clinch a share of the ACC regular season title in a road game against Virginia Tech. The Hokies can certainly be pretty pesky, so it’s far from a shoo-in. But then again, it’s a much easier matchup than the one the team they’re tied with has on Saturday.
It’s still possible Miami could win an outright ACC title if North Carolina loses on the road to Duke and they take care of business again. To even be within a game of that happening is remarkable by Jim Larranaga and his staff. To pull it off? Two ACC titles in four years at Miami? That’s one of the best coaching jobs in the country over the last four years.