When March Madness officially commences and the NCAA Tournament brackets are released, millions of eyes dart to to the infamous No. 5 versus No. 12 matchups, a spot often prime for upsets and chaos. Miami basketball finds itself in the thick of what could be an absolute battle against Drake, one that will be much tougher without their key big man.

Fortunately, sophomore Norchad Omier is expected to play in Friday’s game after injuring his right ankle in the ACC Tournament last week, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium. It is great news for the Hurricanes and college basketball junkies everywhere who will get to witness two good teams at full strength.

Omier was instrumental to Miami basketball (25-7) winning the regular season ACC title. The 2021-22 Sun Belt Player of the Year has not missed a beat since transferring from Arkansas State, averaging 13.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and more than one block per game. Without Omier, the Canes could be very vulnerable inside, particularly where rebounding is concerned.

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Head coach Jim Larranaga may not want to burden the Nicaraguan native with a hefty work load in his first game back, but doing so risks getting bounced by the dangerous Drake Bulldogs. Injuries right before the NCAA Tournament are obviously always difficult to navigate, but Omier’s truly could not come at a worse time.

The Hurricanes seemingly have all the pieces in place to make a deep run. Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller provide stalwart guard play. The team knocks down their free throws at a clip of 77.6 percent. They force turnovers. Larranaga has a wealth of experience and has been to the Final Four once before with George Mason. Miami has it all.

The only question mark is Omier. Giving it a go against the Bulldogs is a great first step towards alleviating those concerns, though.