Watching the Miami rout of Florida State on Sunday night was an odd thing. The more I watched Miami, the more I thought that I'd seen this team before. Apparently, I'm not the only one who had that feeling, as several people tweeted to me that the similarities between this Miami team and last year's Florida State team were eerie.
Miami is playing great basketball. It didn't get started that way. They were handled easily by Florida Gulf Coast in November. Later on they were blown out by Arizona and then lost to Indiana State. Since then they've been perfect, and dominating conference teams, with just their one-point scare against Boston College as a potential blemish.
Last season FSU started ugly, losing to Harvard and Clemson, as well as Florida and Michigan State. Then they dropped their ACC opener to Clemson before winning the next seven straight and 10 of 11. Ultimately, they won their first ever ACC Title in their 20th season in the conference.
Of course, Miami has never won an ACC Title. Until last year, they'd never even finished with a winning record in the ACC.
So what did FSU's team have? It was experience, and lots of it. The Noles were the 16th most experienced team in the nation (a ranking which accounts for minutes played by each player). This year's Miami team is 8th in experience.
But it goes beyond that. There are also these similarities:
- FSU was a huge team – 9th nationally in effective height. Miami is 10th.
- The Noles defense was considerably ahead of their offense. FSU's defense was No. 15 in the nation. Miami's is No. 6.
Will Miami win the ACC? Who knows, it's far too early for any speculation, but they're clearly playing better than any other conference team right now. And most importantly – like FSU last year – they are a veteran squad which took some lumps early and then figured things out.
That's the good news. Now, what about the future?
FSU had six seniors, and all of them ranked in the top-9 in terms of minutes played. Miami has five seniors who are playing, and four are playing more than half the minutes. The one who isn't is Reggie Johnson, and that's because he missed 9 games with an injury.
But for FSU, the future was (and is) still bright. Right now they're on the wrong side of the bubble, but much of that is due to two of the four experienced players going down with injuries. Terrance Shannon is out indefinitely, and Ian Miller got hurt in November, and apparently (according to ESPN) won't be healthy until the season ends. He's playing, but doing so with a limp, and he doesn't practice. Since that injury FSU has fallen from No. 38 in the Pomeroy's to No. 94.
Still, the Noles – even after the departure of the six talented seniors – had five consensus top-100 players left on the roster after the departure of the six seniors, plus a 4* in Terry Whisnant.
Miami? They will be left with one consensus top-100 player, and that's if Rion Brown doesn't decide to go play pro in Europe. Their only other 4* is PG Shane Larkin.
FSU is bringing in two more consensus top-100 players in this next class, and are considered by most to be at or near the top of Andrew Wiggins' list, who is the No. 1 player in the nation. Miami has signed one 3* player, and one player who is a 3* at ESPN and 4* at Rivals.
So watching Miami play – yes, this team reminds me a lot of Florida State. But looking at what the Hurricanes will have left, then they better accomplish their goals this season. Because if they think FSU's drop was hard, wait until they see their own.
Luckily, for Miami, their goals are still all ahead of them. So they have lots of basketball left to enjoy. Just don't get caught looking forward.