Reporting Tim Kephart
CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – Wednesday marks a day many of the most die-hard Miami Hurricanes fans thought they may never see from the team’s basketball team. The men’s team will leave Coral Gables, bound for Austin, Texas as a number two seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
“Who would have thought you come to a school known for its football program and the first year I’m here the basketball program could be the best in the nation,” said University of Miami freshman Zack Kirisits.
Miami is a number two seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the highest seeding in recent history for the program. For students and fans like Kirisits, it’s almost unbelievable how far the team has come since early season losses to foes like Florida Gulf Coast University.
“We were playing the 13th ranked team in the nation. And I kinda just went because it was cool to say I saw Michigan State play,” Kirisits said. “Come find out we win by about 7 points, rush the court, it was fantastic.”
The team’s performance this year has been nothing short of spectacular. The school reeled off 13 straight victories in Atlantic Coast Conference play before finishing 15-3 in conference action.
“We didn’t think it was going to be much different than last year, which was a so-so year,” said Howard Wallach, a UM fan and season ticket holder Howard Wallach.
It’s been an inspiration to some students and long-time fans.
“It builds me up,” said student-athlete Thanei Stewart. “It makes me want to do better also.”
“Just to see 7,900 people at a basketball game when usually it’s 900 to 1,900, so that’s great,” said Wallach. “And I know that some will say oh it’s Johnny come lately, but we’ll take them because it builds up the spirit of the whole town.”
However, history hasn’t always been kind to two-seeds during the last 30 years of the NCAA tournament. Number two and three seeds have won just four championships in the last 28 years.
The last number two seed to win the championship was Connecticut in 2004. In addition, only once in the last 16 years have all four number two seeds reached the Sweet 16.
Last year wasn’t a banner year for number two seeds either. Missouri, which was coming off a Big XII Championship, lost its opener as a two-seed to Norfolk State. Duke, also a two seed, lost to Lehigh last year as well.
Still, Miami arguably could have been a one-seed after sweeping both the regular-season and tournament championships. The Canes game can be seen on TNT on Friday.
A small group of students is making the trek to Austin to see the Hurricanes play. Students can buy tickets to the games for $75. But if you’re going to make the drive, give yourself at least a day because it’s 22 hours one-way.
Zack will pass on this weekend, but if UM makes it out of the first two rounds, the Sweet 16 is a completely different story.
“I’m putting all my money into them,” Kirisits said. “I really think that they are the real deal this year and next year will not be the same; so I’m really trying to take advantage of it.”
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