Final Four Preview: Miami Hurricanes vs. UConn Huskies
(5) Miami Hurricanes
NCAA Tournament path: First round – Def. No. 12 Drake 63-56; Second round – Def. No. 4 Indiana 85-69; Sweet 16 – Def. No. 1 Houston 89-75; Elite Eight – Def. No. 2 Texas 88-81 to win the Midwest Regional.
Miami will face its biggest challenge on Saturday when they take on the UConn Huskies. They have some big challenges they will have to face in order to make it to Monday’s championship game. Offensively this team can do a lot because they can score at will with at least three players in Isaiah Wong, Nijel Pack, and Jordan Miller.
Jordan Miller is the team’s best player and he showed that against Texas. He was perfect from the field 7-of-7 and perfect from free throw 13-for-13 scoring 27 points. Wong has not had the best tournament because defenses key in on him but he can get off when he wants to.
Pack can shoot from deep and if he gets in a groove as he did against Houston it will be a long night. The biggest strength for the Hurricanes is the fact they can score in different ways. With four guys averaging double digits in points scheming to stop one or two players will not help win the game. After almost getting upset in the first round to Drake the Canes have scored at a rapid pace.
A weakness of theirs is defense, scoring at a high clip hides their average defense. In adjusted defense efficiency the Canes rank 104th. The defense will have to come to play against the Huskies who have dominated everyone. There is a size down low on the block to overcome.
Adama Sonogo is averaging 9.8 rebounds on 60% shooting and their 7’2 freshman Donovan Clingan is a good rim running big. The size plus the transition offense can become overwhelming for the Canes if they don’t get back and stop the ball. Getting back in transition could determine the outcome of this game.
(4) UCONN Huskies
NCAA Tournament Path: First round – Def. No. 13 Iona 87-63; Second round – Def. No. 5 Saint Mary’s 70-55; Sweet 16 – Def. No. 8 Arkansas 88-65; Elite Eight – Def. No. 3 Gonzaga 82-54 to win West Regional.
The Huskies looked more so like a No. 1 or 2 seed based on how they dominated their opponents. Before Miami the Huskies’ toughest test was Gonzaga and they ran through them as if they were a division two team.
If there is a team left in the Final Four that can cut down the nets Monday it will be the Huskies. They are beating teams in the tournament by an average of 22.5 points per game.
There are two players to talk about on this team and that is Adama Songo and Jordan Hawkins. Hawkins was named the Most Outstanding Player in the West Regional. He scored 44 points combined against Arkansas and Gonzaga and made nine threes. Sonogo is a different beast to deal with.
No one in the Final Four has scored more points than him in the tournament so far (80). He was the Big East’s leading scorer this season, UConn is 19-0 when Sonogo scores 20 or more points. This is a very well-balanced team that can get scoring from a lot of places.
A big strength for the Huskies is their size and the ability to dominate. This is one of the best offensive rebound teams in the nation and one of the best when the ball is moving.
The Huskies rank in the top-15 as a defensive team and that includes their size and length. They are physically imposing on the inside and outside of the paint. They are good at running teams off the three-point line and forcing offenses to go to the inside where Sonogo usually stops everyone.
One big weakness of this team is that they don’t have a traditional point guard. They don’t have someone they completely trust with the ball in their hands when the game is tight or when there is pressure.
Another thing is if they don’t get out in transition and stop them they won’t be able to score as high as they have been. As complete of a team as they are there are weaknesses that Miami can expose.