For the second time in his career, Miami coach Jim Larrañaga will lead a team into the Final Four after guiding the fifth-seeded Hurricanes past No. 2 Texas in the Elite Eight. But, while Miami’s first-time berth will have its own place in NCAA history, for Larrañaga, Sunday’s win carried added significance considering it came exactly 17 years after the start of his first legendary Final Four run.
Many college basketball fans who witnessed the Hurricanes storm back from a 13-point deficit to beat Texas, 88–81, felt a bit of déjà vu recalling the 2006 NCAA tournament, when George Mason went on an improbable first-ever trip to the Final Four under Larrañaga. It was, of course, during that tournament on March 26 that the Patriots stunned No. 2 Connecticut with a 86–84 overtime victory in the Elite Eight despite trailing by as much as 12 points.
Unlike Larrañaga’s 2023 Miami team, which reached the Elite Eight for a second-straight season, George Mason entered March Madness as an 11-seed with hardly any chance at the national title. After upsetting No. 6 Michigan State, GMU went on to knock off No. 12 North Carolina, No. 7 Wichita State and No. 1 UConn before falling to eventual national champion No. 3 Florida in the national semifinal.
This year, Larrañaga will look to write a new chapter in the Final Four but with a different outcome in his 12th season at Miami. The Hurricanes earned a matchup against Texas following wins over No. 12 Drake, No. 4 Indiana and No. 1 Houston.
With Miami now headed to Houston, Larrañaga, the 15th coach to take two schools to Final Four, will hope to make it his first national title game with a win over a familiar foe in No. 4 UConn in the national semifinal on April 1. But, for now, the 73-year-old coach can celebrate notching another double-digit comeback Elite Eight victory on March 26, or as it may now be known going forward, “Jim Larrañaga Day.”