Jim Larranaga left George Mason three years ago for what seemed at the time nothing more than a retirement job at Miami. But that wasn't likely for a coach who took a mid-major program to the Final Four in 2006 and burned to do so at a bigger program. Larranaga instead has helped mold the Hurricanes into a legitimate force in the ACC, with one of the program's biggest games in years coming up when they host No. 1 Duke on Wednesday night.
Despite a slew of injuries, Miami is 13-3 overall, 4-0 in the ACC - the last unbeaten team in league play - and now ranked No. 25 in the country. And its resume, which includes a win over Michigan State at home, has been put together even without star center Reggie Johnson, out until late next month with an injury. Sophomore point guard Shane Larkin has helped ease the burden on shooting guard Durand Scott, long one of the ACC's most underrated players. Without Johnson, 6-foot-11 Kenny Kadji has become a shot-blocking force in the paint (1.6 blocks per game) who can also knock down an outside jumper or two.
- Brian McNally