People and Community Sports

Gearing up for Saturday’s matchup

In awe of the men’s basketball team’s success, University of Miami alumni across the country are preparing for Saturday’s NCAA Final Four game against UConn.
Watch parties

The Broward 'Canes Community alumni group hosted a watch party on March 26 at the Carolina Ale House in Weston, Florida, for the Elite Eight matchup. Photo: Desiree Rodriguez/University of Miami.

Carlos Guzmán was traveling home to South Florida from Michigan on Sunday when he took a planned detour for a very important stop.

Guzmán pulled over in St. Pete Beach on Florida’s West Coast, as it was time to watch both the men’s and women’s Hurricane basketball teams in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. He found a watch party with fellow alumni and die-hard ’Canes fans, and after the extraordinary comeback win for the men’s team, Guzmán spent the entire night fielding calls from friends and other alumni incredulous at the victory. 

“I don’t even remember the drive home,” said Guzmán, president of the University of Miami’s Citizen’s Board and current member of the University’s Board of Trustees. “There’s so much unexpected excitement among alumni. Last year the team got to the Elite Eight, and the thought process was, can we repeat it again this year? But we surpassed it, and everyone is marveling at how extraordinary that is.” 

Dupriest and family at the Elite Eight game in Kansas City
Darren Dupriest and family celebrate the men's basketball team advancing to the Final Four. Photo courtesy Darren Dupriest

Meanwhile, alumnus Darren Dupriest was in shock from watching his Miami Hurricanes cut down the net in person after securing their place in the NCAA Final Four, just a short drive from his Kansas City, Kansas, home. Usually, Dupriest must board a plane to cheer for the ’Canes. Yet, he said attending the Sunday game where the Hurricanes defeated the Texas Longhorns was an experience like no other. 

“I almost had a heart attack from the last 13 minutes of the game,” said Dupriest, a lifelong ’Canes fan, member of the board of directors for the Alumni Association, and whose son Reagan is a current student. “There were a lot of ’Canes fans there, but by the time we left, we were all emotionally exhausted. It’s amazing and it’s a little surreal because we have never really been known for basketball, and now we have elite programs for men and women.”

Reagan Dupriest was at the Rathskeller celebrating the win with several dozen students and Devang Desai, president of the Alumni Association, and a member of the Board of Trustees. Desai said his social media and his phone have been flooded with messages since Sunday’s win, and the various ’Canes Communities game watch events have filled venues around the country. In New York City, alumni packed a two-story Manhattan restaurant to watch the game. 

“It is an exceptionally magical time to be a Miami Hurricane,” he said. “And the journey for the women’s and men’s basketball programs has been nothing short of extraordinary this year. Alumni following Hurricanes athletics are definitely energized.” 

Now, many of the other 198,000 University of Miami alumni across the globe are hoping or planning to be in Houston, Texas, for Saturday night’s Final Four game against the University of Connecticut Huskies. Others are making arrangements to attend one of the 26 watch parties currently organized across the country, including four in the Los Angeles region and possibly two in the New York City area—although there may be even more soon, said Erica Arroyo, the University’s associate vice president of engagement. 

In Miami, alumni, their families, faculty and staff members, and students are invited to a massive watch party Saturday night at the Watsco Center, featuring live music, the Sunsations dance team, appearances from the women’s basketball team, and more revelry. 

“It’s been really neat to see all our alumni come together for basketball in a way they haven’t before,” Arroyo said. “And our ’Canes Communities are so dedicated that they put all these watch parties together in a matter of days. It’s completely volunteer-led, so they are securing locations within their cities, and we help with marketing, but they are doing the heavy lifting. The whole University has come together in such a great way to celebrate this momentous occasion and hopefully we make history.” 

Desai and Arroyo are hoping that they can build on the excitement surrounding the Final Four game to raise money for the entire University. Toward that goal, there is a matching gift challenge going on through Saturday night. 

Regardless, Guzmán thinks that the success of the entire basketball program this season will help further propel the University into the national spotlight. 

“We already expect a strong applicant pool for freshmen because of academics and all the great things going on at the University, and we have seen that in the last few years, but with this going on, our applications will probably spike even more,” he said. 

Although Guzmán and Desai cannot be in Houston on Saturday, both will be watching from Miami and said they are ready to hop on a flight for the championship game. 

“I am going to Houston on Monday for a national championship game,” Guzmán said. “And if everything falls into place and we win the championship, it would be such an extraordinary achievement for UM—a legendary achievement.” 

Visit the Alumni website to find a local watch party and learn the details of the matchup game against University of Connecticut.