USC basketball has a favorable matchup in the first round of what will hopefully be a strong NCAA Tournament run. They'll be playing the Miami Hurricanes, who had a rather rough 22-11 season in what was a weak ACC conference.
I had the chance to ask the Site Expert of Canes Warning (FanSided's Miami Hurricanes website)--Alan Rubenstein--about how he sees his team performing in this matchup, what he thinks of the 7-seeded USC team, and what USC fans should be looking out for.
His perspective was certainly helpful for me, and I definitely have a lot more to look forward to during Friday's game than I originally thought.
Below is the Q and A of how the conversation went down about USC basketball's first round matchup.
Question: "How will Miami be able to contain the USC big men with the size advantage that SC will have?"
Answer from Alan Rubenstein: "Miami is able to neutralize a size disadvantage by spreading out opponents and taking the big men away from the basket. Miami won at Duke this season by forcing turnovers. Miami guards Kameron McGusty, Charlie Moore and Isaiah Wong are all excellent off the dribble. Defensively, Sam Waardenburg has been reliable. He had some key rebounds down the stretch in the ACC Tournament win over Boston College. Waardenburg is a stretch five who is a good three-point shooter."
Question: "Miami was second-to-worst in the ACC in field goal percentage allowed (46.5%). What will be their overall game plan to stop USC's scoring threats?"
Answer: "Miami defensively relies on forcing turnovers. Miami ranks 11th nationally forcing 4.2 turnovers more than they commit. USC is 303rd nationally committing two more turnovers than their opponent. The field goal percentage can be somewhat misleading. The turnovers can balance that out. When Miami forced at least 13 turnovers during the 2021-22 season they are 15-6. Miami was 5-1 when they forced 17 or more turnovers."
Question: "Which player on USC's team are Miami fans most concerned about?"
Answer: "The Miami fans are mostly just focused on the first NCAA Tournament game in four years. Ellis, Mobley and Peterson seem to be the three most important players for USC. If Miami can limit them they will have a good chance to advance."
Question: "Which player(s) are X-Factors for Miami that USC fans need to look out for?"
Answer: "Isaiah Wong has the ability to take a game over. At times this season, he has not played well in halves, particularly to begin games. Miami needs Wong to play well. McGusty and Moore have been more consistent. Jordan Miller has been the best all-around player for Miami, Miller has played very well recently. If Waardenburg starts hitting shots he can be difficult to defend.
I hope this conversation gave you a better idea of what to look out for in the contest. SC certainly needs to play their brand of defense, receive strong performances from their top scorers, and protect the basketball. The No. 22 ranked Trojans (AP Poll) will be favored over the 10-seeded Canes, but as we know, anything can happen in March.