In just their second Sweet 16 appearance in school history, the Miami Hurricanes face the Marquette Golden Eagles Thursday night in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.
The Hurricanes have already bested their school record of wins in a single season, and can reach their first Elite Eight by beating a Marquette club that lost in the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons.
Head coach Jim Larranaga's squad reached the nation's capital after a 78-49 beatdown of Pacific, and a 63-59 escape of Illinois.
Against the Illini, a favorable out of bounds call and 21 points off the bench from junior guard Rion Brown helped Miami advance. Brown has scored 20-plus points in three games during his career, with all three coming this season, and the Hurricanes are undefeated when he does.
Shane Larkin totaled 17 points and five assists, overcoming a poor 5-for-12 shooting night, and Durand Scott scored six points with two steals, with an 0-for-4 mark from three.
Marquette will be playing for their first trip to the Elite Eight since 2003 when Tom Crean coached Dwyane Wade in his final season.
The Golden Eagles survived two close wins, the first against Davidson, and in the third round defeated the tournament darling of the last three years in Butler.
Junior guard Vander Blue exploded for a game-high 29 points, with 19 coming in the second half, and Marquette survived a missed three-pointer from Butler’s Rotnei Clarke.
Trent Lockett tallied 13 points and six rebounds, and forward Jamil Wilson contributed 13 points and five rebounds off the pine. Overall, the Golden Eagles moved on due to a sound free throw shooting, converting 23 of their 27 attempts.
The winner takes on No. 1 Indiana or No. 4 Syracuse for a shot at the Final Four.
The game tips-off at 7:15 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by CBS, or watch a free live online stream at the NCAA March Madness official site here.
Betting Odds: Miami by 6 points
Over/Under: 127 points
Prediction: Miami advanced this far due to timely scoring, but will need Scott and Larkin to be at their best the rest of the way to be success. Blue could cause match up problems for Miami. If Blue gets hot and the Golden Eagles win the rebounding battle, Marquette will move on.
Predicted Score: Marquette 65, Miami 62