Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/13/13
Jim Larranaga rose from his chair after speaking to the media about Miami winning its first outright regular-season conference title. I hope you all enjoyed the ride, the Hurricanes coach said. Enjoyed? Past tense? Not so fast, coach. Not only is the ride not over, it heads to Greensboro, N.C., before getting on The Road to Atlanta. Top-seeded Miami begins play in the ACC tournament at noon ET on Friday. The 'Canes will meet the winner of Thursdays No. 8 Boston College-No. 9 Georgia Tech game. Should the Hurricanes win the ACC tournament, it would be the first league tournament title in the programs history. In addition, an NCAA tournament No. 1 seed would be very realistic for a team that would be ACC regular-season and postseason champion. This year has been historic weve done a lot of things that we havent done before, guard Shane Larkin said, like beating a No. 1 (Duke) team and winning a regular-season conference championship. Theres no reason why we cant keep doing it. It certainly has been a memorable season so far for the Hurricanes (24-6, 15-3). Theyve tied the school record for most wins (24 in 2001-02), enjoyed a 14-game winning streak, and got as high as No. 2 in the national rankings. The outright regular-season title was better than sharing the 2000 Big East crown with Syracuse. During the past week, the Hurricanes beat Clemson on Saturday to secure the ACC regular-season title, Larranaga won ACC Coach of the Year, Larkin earned conference first-team honors, and guard Durand Scott was named the leagues defensive player of the year. But all that gets pushed aside the next few weeks. Its all about March Madness, which can be euphoric in victory or cruel with an abrupt ending. One thing I told our team was, the regular season is over nobody can take that championship away from you, thats yours, Larranaga said Tuesday. And when it comes to tournament play, it really doesnt matter who we play or where play. What matters is how we play. Miami played without Scott when it lost at Florida Gulf Coast in the second game of the season. The Hurricanes then went 1-2 on a Hawaii trip without center Reggie Johnson, who suffered a broken thumb right before the first game. The Hurricanes followed their long winning streak by ending the regular season with three losses in their final five games. As special as the year has been, Miami clearly is not unbeatable. You go on a 14-game winning streak, you cant start thinking all of a sudden, Were great, Larranaga said. Youre the same team that lost Florida Gulf Coast. Three wins this weekend would give the team an ACC tournament crown. A victory Friday advances the Hurricanes to play No. 4 Virginia, No. 5 North Carolina State or No. 12 Virginia Tech in the first semifinal Saturday afternoon. The title game is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Sunday. Its like AAU, multiple games in a weekend, Larkin said. Were a very well-conditioned team, we have a lot of endurance. Its more mental than physical. Let the mind games begin. Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas
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