You’ll hear everybody say it: you need great guard play to win a national championship. Well, as BetOnline patrons have observed, the Miami Hurricanes have gotten exactly that as they have rolled into the Final Four.

But are great guards enough? And is this Miami group the best backcourt left, as many of the pundits have said?

Answering those questions may be the key to analyzing Miami’s chances of getting to the championship game.

In the Final Four odds that have been posted on this game, the ‘Canes are catching some points;

UConn Huskies -5.5
Miami Hurricanes +5.5

Over 149 Points -110
Under 149 Points -110

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Like a lot of teams, especially those who lack in size, the ‘Canes play with a lineup that, in effect, consists of three guards. Part of the rationale is to promote quickness, as head coach Jim Larranaga like to use traps as part of his basic defensive scheme. The Hurricanes have been a great team at changing on the fly, and if their big man, Norchad Omier, can avoid getting into foul trouble (and no guarantee of that), they can compete to some degree on the inside with a Connecticut squad that has a beast in the middle in Adama Sanogo and another beast to back him up in Donovan Clingan.

The guards have done a great job all season; all of them have hit at least 38% of their three-point shots. And in the tournament, they have been particularly dangerous for an offense that currently ranks fifth in the nation in efficiency.

Through the four games they have played in the Big Dance, the guards in Miami’s starting lineup have combined for 188 points. That’s 47 a game. After an awful start against Drake, in which he shot just 1-for-10 from the field, Isaiah Wong has shot 47.5%, and lit up the board against Houston (20 points) and Indiana (27). Wong won the ACC’s Player of the Year award, and he did this as more of a scoring type than a playmaker. There have been instances where he’s been slow to find his teammates coming off screen-and-rolls, but he can shoot and he doesn’t leave a lot of points at the free throw line (84.1%).

Nijel Pack has shot 51% and is also excellent from the free throw line (88.2%). Pack was the second-ranking three-point marksman in the Big 12 last season, as he was playing for Kansas State. He took a big NIL deal to transfer. They’ve been employing him more in the lead guard role, although he really doesn’t have a history as a point guard.

Wooga Poplar has enough size (6’5″) to complement Pack, who doesn’t have the physicality to match up with many guards. He’s scored 48 points in the NCAA Tournament, hitting 70% of his shots from two-point range. Over the full season he is 39% from three-point territory.

And on those occasions when coach Larranaga goes to the bench (Miami does not use a deep rotation), he can on occasion get something extra out of Bensley Joseph, who had five rebounds and five assists in the win over Indiana.

This is all a tall task against a UConn team that can defend anything (13th vs. three-pointers, 14th vs. two-pointers). So Miami had better find a way to score. However, because the Huskies have been known to send their opponents to the line quite a bit, the 85.3% combined free throw accuracy rate of that Hurricane guard duo could turn out to be very important.