It is always great to be a Miami Hurricane.
But today, if it is possible, it seems it may be just a little better than great.
When, even in your wildest dreams, did you think you would be able to say this out loud: "The University of Miami won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in basketball!"
That's right, forget Tobacco Road, it is time for the ACC to get used to a South Beach diet of strong defense, excellent coaching and a well executed offense. All of this courtesy of a team wearing orange and green that will not quit and simply would not be denied.
In a conference of blue-blood teams like Duke and North Carolina, your Miami Hurricanes went into Greensboro, NC and walked out with their heads held high and as winners of their first ever ACC title in basketball.
The ninth-ranked Hurricanes now have the program's first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship to go with its first regular-season title.
Miami's Shane Larkin scored a career-high 28 points, eight coming in the final 2:30 minutes, to help No. 9 Miami pull away late to beat North Carolina 87-77 in Sunday's final. Trey McKinney Jones added a career-high 20 points for the top-seeded Hurricanes (27-6), including the go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:27 left that started Miami's final push to secure the program's first ACC tournament title.
In a terrific back-and-forth game filled with big shots, the Hurricanes finally slowed P.J. Hairston and the third-seeded Tar Heels (24-10) enough to secure what amounted to a road win in front of UNC's home-state crowd.
Larkin was chosen the tournament's MVP after finishing as the runner-up for league player of the year to Virginia Tech's Erick Green. But Larkin was at his best when the Hurricanes needed him in a tight game to complete their surprise run from being picked fifth in the preseason poll to ACC champion.
Miami shot 51 percent and made 12 of 22 3-pointers, six coming from McKinney Jones and four from Larkin. Miami used its size advantage against North Carolina's four-guard lineup to take a 36-28 rebounding advantage that led to 13 second-chance points.
Larkin drove by Dexter Strickland for a layup and a 76-71 lead, then McKinney Jones struck again with a 3 from the left corner off a feed from Rion Brown that made it 79-71 with 1:36 left - the Hurricanes' biggest lead to that point. Larkin also went 6-for-6 at the foul line in the final minute to keep Miami
It was an emotional moment for Miami seniors Durand Scott, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble - who were all part of the team that was a last-place seed in the 2010 tournament that made the program's first run to the semifinals.
As the confetti fell from the rafters of the Greensboro Coliseum after the game, Scott leapt into the arms of Gamble, then shared a hug with Johnson.
The question now is how the win will affect Miami's NCAA tournament seeding and whether the Hurricanes have done enough to earn a No. 1 seed?