It's not impossible to go dancing with a sub .500 conference record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It just doesn't happen very often.
Coming off what most believe was a crippling loss to its NCAA Tournament hopes Wednesday at last-place Georgia Tech, the University of Miami still has at least some hope -- albeit faint -- of receiving an invite to March Madness if doesn't earn the automatic bid by winning next week's conference tournament. One look at the ACC history book shows us some examples.
N.C. State, for instance, went dancing just in 2005 despite finishing 7-9 in conference play and with a 17-12 overall record. The Wolfpack, like UM, didn't beat Duke or North Carolina in the regular season and didn't have many impressive wins at all. But they won twice at the ACC Tournament -- including over a highly-ranked Wake Forest team -- and then got their invite. State then made it all the way to the Sweet 16 with superstar Julius Hodge. The Wolfpack, like UM, had began the regular season ranked in the teens before falling off.
There are more examples, but you have to go back to the 1990s to find them. The most staggering example belonged to Florida State when in 1998, they went dancing despite a 6-10 conference record. They actually won a first round game as a 13th seed before losing in the Round of 32. That same year, Clemson made it with a 7-9 mark. Others include: Virginia '97 (7-9), Clemson '96 (7-9), Wake Forest '92 (7-9), Georgia Tech '91 (6-8) and Maryland '88 (6-8).
Of course, the Canes have to take care of business beginning Saturday at noon against the aforementioned Wolfpack, who are coming in with a similar 6-9 ACC record and have already beaten UM once earlier this season.
A FEW MORE LATE NOTES...
> Jack McClinton was named to the 2009 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Men’s Basketball Team for the third-straight season Friday. UM and Duke lead all ACC teams with seven All-ACC Academic Men’s Basketball Team selections over the last four years. McClinton was among a group of eight to earn the recognition this season, requiring a student-athlete to earn a 3.00 grade point average for the previous semester and maintain a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career.
Earlier this week, McClinton was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 2 First Team alongside FSU's Toney Douglas, North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson and Wake Forest's Jeff Teague. So, basically, the coaches believe he should be All-ACC First Team.
> Courtesy of my friend Brian "The Beast" London over at WQAM, UM coach Randy Shannon said on Hurricanes Hotline reiterated last night the Canes are done with recruiting. So, for those of you still faintly hoping the Canes might still take running back Bryce Brown, that's the coach's latest response to the indirect question.