Larraņaga Leads @CanesHoops to New Heights
By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami's men's basketball program made history this week, ascending to the Top 5 in both the Associated Press and USA TODAY polls for the first time in school history.
Miami reaching the third spot in the AP poll and the fourth spot in the coaches' poll are both program highs, but their historic rise in the rankings is not the only "first" the Canes have accomplished under the tutelage of head coach Jim Larrañaga.
This year's Canes beat No. 1 Duke, 90-63, to become the first team in program history to defeat the nation's top-ranked team. Larranaga also guided the Canes to their first ever win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium last season. That gave the Hurricanes two-game winning streak against Duke since joining the ACC.
Beating a decorated program like Duke is always viewed as a significant accomplishment. The same could be said for a victory over North Carolina. This season, the Canes beat both ACC powers by impressive margins.
Miami is the first team to beat Duke and UNC by 25-plus points in the same season since the start of ACC play in 1953. The Canes are also the first team to beat the Blue Devils and Tar Heels in the same season by 20-plus points since Maryland in the 1974-75 season.
The 2012-13 season also marks the first in program history in which the Canes beat all three teams in "The Triangle": Duke, North Carolina and NC State. It is also the first time in program history that the Canes beat NC State on their home court in Raleigh, NC.
The list of Miami basketball firsts continues with impressive feats such as the Canes' 10-0 start in conference play. Miami had previously only won nine total ACC games in a season, a feat they accomplished under Larranaga last season. The nine ACC wins last season helped the Canes finish fourth in the conference, also a program best to date.
This season, the Canes have defeated three teams ranked in the Top 20 for the first time since joining the ACC. The last time Miami beat three Top 20 teams, they were members of the BIG EAST in 1999-00.
Miami, who is ranked in the Top 15 for the first time since joining the ACC, has seen fan support soar to new levels. For the first time in program history, the Canes have had three capacity crowds in a season.
The Canes beat Duke, North Carolina and Florida State before sold out crowds at the BankUnited Center this season. UM students camped out for the Duke game more than four hours before tipoff. Then they did it again for the Florida State game four days later.
Larrañaga's Canes have already accomplished so much this year, but Miami's men's hoops team hopes to add many more "firsts" to their historic season.