Miami Hurricanes: 22-8, 11-7 in the ACC

Head coach: Jim Larrañaga (7th season)

Players to watch: Dewan Huell (11.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG); Lonnie Walker IV (11.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG); Bruce Brown Jr. (11.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.0 APG)

Season recap: With the loss of graduate student Davon Reed—the team’s top scorer last year with 14.9 points per game—Miami had to put its faith in its younger players, as the team became predominantly underclassmen. Newcomer Lonnie Walker IV and returning sophomore starter Bruce Brown Jr. took charge, along with returner Dewan Huell.

The three played important roles in early wins against then-No. 12 Minnesota and then-No. 24 Florida State, with Brown scoring a season high of 23 points against the Seminoles. Senior Ja’Quan Newton contributed consistently with 8.5 points per game and more than two rebounds and assists per game. The Hurricanes also had losses against ranked ACC foes such as Clemson, Duke, and Virginia. 

Miami really hit its stride at the end of the season, going 7-3 in its last 10 games despite being without Brown, who has been out with a foot injury, including a four-game win streak to close the regular season. In a 79-78 win against Boston College, Walker hit a triple with 2.3 seconds left to lift his team past the Eagles and complete a 14-point comeback. And after blowing a 16-point lead, Newton hit a buzzer-beating shot from a few steps past halfcourt to beat No. 9 North Carolina 91-88 in Chapel Hill. 

A home win against Virginia Tech marked the end of Miami’s regular season, with freshman Chris Lykes hitting a free throw with three seconds left to seal the deal. 

The Hurricanes developed a rhythm and utilized a deep bench, which could be seen in the game against the Tar Heels in which six of the eight players who played scored in double digits. The passion and effort with which they played in the end of the season to secure wins and make comebacks could very likely be crucial in the coming weeks.

How they make a run: With Brown, the Hurricanes' star guard, out for at least another week, Miami relies more heavily on players like Huell, Walker IV and Newton for balanced contributions to sneak its way into its first ACC tournament title game since 2013.