Jim Larranaga cuts down another net. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

The Miami Hurricanes, in Jim Larranaga’s second season as coach, clinched an automatic NCAA berth by beating North Carolina, 87-77, in the ACC tournament championship game Sunday.

For a change, there’s a different team atop the ACC and this March there’s a buzz for something other than spring football in south Florida. These Hurricanes may even be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, as every other team that’s won the ACC outright and the NCAA tournament has been.

“There’s an awful lot of excitement in Coral Gables and Miami,” Larranaga said. “Between us and the Miami Heat [22 wins in a row], we’re doing a lot of winning.”


Miami has advanced to the tournament only six times, the last in 2008 when they were seeded seventh. The Hurricanes were led by 28 points from Shane Larkin, a sophomore guard who has said he intends to return next season.. Senior Trey McKinney Jones had 20 points, with six three-pointers. Senior guard Durand Scott, who had 32 points against North Carolina State on Saturday, hurt his back Sunday, but returned to the game.

It was such a special win for Miami that UNC Coach Roy Williams hung around afterward to address the Hurricanes in their locker room. The win also validates Larranaga’s decision to leave George Mason, which he led to a Final Four berth in 2006. The formula that brought Larranaga, 63, such success at Mason works on a bigger stage, the Washington Post’s Mark Giannotto wrote last month, although he’s no longer bringing in a Cinderella team to the Big Dance.

His approach, though, hasn’t changed much from his 14 seasons at George Mason, right down to the plays he used to lead an unheralded group from the Washington area to the Final Four.

“This is the way we’ve done it, and we’re gonna continue to do it a certain way,” Larranaga said. “But I wondered if this would work at the highest level.”

So far, it has. There’s even a Julian Gamble videobomb to verify it.

H/T USA Today

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