The Houston Cougars play host to the Miami Hurricanes on Friday night in a Sweet 16 showdown from the T-Mobile Center. The Cougars are the one seed in the region, while Hurricanes are the five seed, having sprung the upset in the last round. Both teams have had highs and lows over the first two rounds but with them being only one win away from the Elite Eight, hopes are high heading into the weekend. These two teams haven't squared off lately and even despite the seed discrepancy, this one could go either way. A meeting against either Xavier or Texas awaits for the winner of this one.
Miami struggled against Drake in the first round but after dominating against Indiana the last time out, hopes are high for this group. They come into this one 27-7 and finished near the top of the ACC, though a loss to Duke in the ACC semifinals cast some doubt over this group heading into March. With their size and ability to defend across multiple positions, this is a great match up for a group that has been battle-tested over the last few weeks. The Hurricanes went 11-6 in road or neutral site games this season, which certainly leaves more questions than answers as to how they'll perform in this one. A Sunday matchup against another talented team awaits but with a win in this one, there's no reason this team can't find its way into the Final Four.
The Hurricanes have one player on the injury report to worry about heading into this one as well. Wooga Poplar (back) is questionable for this one after goin g down in the last game, as his status will want to be monitored as tip off approaches. Averaging over 20 minutes per game, his minutes could be difficult to replace.
MIA ?? KC ?? S16 pic.twitter.com/ExlNHWKrDu
— Canes Men's Basketball (@CanesHoops) March 22, 2023
Miami's offense leads the way this season and they rank top 50 in the country in most offensive categories. The Round of 32 saw them dominate against Indiana on the offensive glass but they are unlikely to be able to generate as much frontcourt success against the Cougars. Isaiah Wong (16.1 ppg) was the ACC's Player of the Year and with three other double-figure scorers to lean on, they have plenty of avenues for scoring. The backcourt advantage is likely to lean their way, especially on the defensive end where they can put their perimeter length to the test. Hitting the defensive glass, much like they did the last time out, will be crucial as well, as winning the second-chance points battle is likely to determine who finds their way into the Elite Eight.
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