The Miami Hurricanes are off to a 12-0 start, up to 19th in the top 25 and have been one of the early surprises in college basketball.
Coach Frank Haith's team is one of nine remaining unbeaten teams in the country.
And some still wonder if the Hurricanes, picked to finish last in the 12-team ACC, are for real or just another team that has loaded up the non-conference schedule with teams better suited for the pastry shop.
Winthrop's Eagles (6-5) get a shot at the Hurricanes at 4 this afternoon in the first game of the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla. In the second game, defending national champion Florida takes on Temple.
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"They're beatable," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said, "but they've got really good perimeter players, they rebound the ball and they get to the free throw line.
"It's another opportunity for us against an ACC team, and if we play well there's no question we can win."
Some remain skeptical of the Hurricanes. ESPN.com this week picked Winthrop over Miami in one of its upset specials, citing the 'Canes' less-than-daunting schedule.
Miami's strength of schedule is rated No. 206 out of 341 NCAA Division I schools, while Winthrop has played the nation's seventh most difficult slate.
The Hurricanes' best wins have been by six points over Virginia Commonwealth and Providence, both 8-3, on neutral courts and at Mississippi State (7-5), also by six. Their 12 opponents are a combined 55-51, including Florida Southern (7-4), a non-NCAA Division I program. The 'Canes have played five teams with sub-.500 records.
Their last three wins have come against Stetson (3-9), North Florida (0-9) and N.C. A&T (5-7) by an average of 36 points.
Winthrop's 11 opponents have a combined record of 81-39, and only East Carolina (4-6) and Old Dominion (6-6) don't have winning records. The Eagles lost to 9-2 Baylor, 10-1 West Virginia and 11-0 Ole Miss and defeated 9-2 Akron and 6-5 Georgia Tech.
The latest RPI rankings list Miami at No. 23, Winthrop No. 43.
But those are just numbers when tipoff arrives. If anything, the 'Canes look a lot like Ole Miss, another of the country's unbeaten teams. There was similar criticism of the Rebels, who beat Winthrop 76-71 on the strength of a 34-23 rebounding advantage that included 16 offensive rebounds.
Peele stressed that comparison and Miami's ability to get to the free throw line in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
"They out-rebound opponents by seven a game," he said, "and they've made 200 free throws. Their opponents have shot 201 free throws. They make more free throws than opponents attempt."
And Peele is also concerned with 6-foot-1 point guard Jack McClinton, who averages 14.4 points, shoots 49 percent overall and has made 17-of-19 3-pointers. He, James Dews and Brian Asbury give the 'Canes quickness and shooting on the perimeter.
"They make open shots," Peele said.
The 'Canes don't have an imposing inside game, but 6-9 Anthony King (8.8 points, 8.3 rebounds) leads a veteran group.
All of Winthrop's players came back from the holidays healthy, and Peele ran them through a couple of tough practices to shake off the effects of the Christmas turkey.
In their last game, the Eagles beat Old Dominion to bounce back from a stunning loss at Mount St. Mary's. The Eagles will be looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-November.
"We beat Georgia Tech and lost to Baylor," Peele said. "We beat Akron and lost to Mount St. Mary's. It's time to put some wins together."
While today's game is being played in Florida, it's not likely to feel like a true road game for the Eagles. Despite the gaudy start, the 'Canes have averaged just 2,400 in seven home games in Miami, but the crowd in the BankAtlantic Center today could have a decidedly Florida flavor. By the second half, the Gators' crowd could be backing the Eagles.
"It's big," Peele said. "It should be a great atmosphere in a big-time arena.
"If we can play them even on the boards, we've got a good chance. If we can beat them on the boards, we have a great chance. We've got to do the dirty work -- check out, rebound, get second shots and guard them.
"We've got to come up big."