After a much needed few days off, the Seminoles welcome Isiah Thomas and the Golden Panther of Florida International to the Tucker Center. Despite a frustration loss to Ohio State, the Seminoles continue to have one of the best defenses in the country. The Golden Panthers, who are 3-7 have yet to see a defense of the likes of Florida State. This is the last game before the Seminoles go on break for Finals.
Game Time: 1pm EST
Television: Sun Sports
The loss to Ohio State was difficult. Florida State continued to turnover the ball at a rate at which we have all become accostomed. The shots weren't falling and Ohio State couldn't miss from behind the arc. However, Solomon Alabi demonstrated his dominance in the paint with 21 points and 10 rebounds. But Florida State couldn't shut down the three point shooting of Ohio State. They went 12 - 28 from behind the arc. They only made 13 shots from inside the arc. The point differential on three point shots alone was 30 points as Florida State only hit 2 of their 16 three point shots. Credit to the defense for shutting down the paint and keeping this to 13 points at the end.
The top chart essentially gives the story of the game. Keep in mind that eFG% is weighted for three point shots and explains the large difference. Ohio State is an excellent team and this could have been one of those 'quality loses' in terms of RPI and tournament resume data. However, Evan Turner, Ohio State's standout forward, injured his back fracturing three vertebrae in Ohio State's big win over Eastern Michigan. He is out for at least 8 weeks.
Florida International enters the Tucker Center with a 3-7 record, with wins over Florida Memorial, North Carolina Central and Florida A&M. Their seven losses include a 16 point loss to North Carolina and a 32 point loss to Tulsa. It has not been easy for Thomas and the Golden Panthers. They currently rank 255th in the nation in offensive efficiency and 306th in the nation in defensive efficiency. They had an eFG% of only 25% against Tulsa. Without watching that game it's hard to say exactly what happened, but Tulsa simply shut down the Golden Panthers that night. On the defensive end, only two of their opponents have had an ORating less than 100 this year.
FIU will likely start the following lineup:
FIU does not have a singly player over 6'8. In the preseason, Isiah Thomas said, "We'll try to play pretty fast and up-tempo and try to play with some zest out there that'll at least give the fans some entertainment and enjoyment." (Source: Blue Ribbon College Basketball Year Book) Without any true size in the paint, it's totally reasonable that Thomas would would want to get out and run. They do generate turnovers on 23% of their opponents possessions and cause steals on 12% of their opponents possessions. Marvin Roberts is leading the way averaging 15 points per game for FIU. He is a JUCO transfer this year and put up 29 points last year at Redland (OK). Stephon Weaver and Antoine Watson are also JUCO transfers and are averaging 11 and 8.8 points per game respectively. This is not going to be the year for FIU to make it to the Top 25 as Thomas has hoped for. However, they have some excellent talent coming in the next two years.
The Seminoles will once again start: Kitchen, Dulkys, Singleton and Alabi. Let's hope that Alabi can continue to build on his success against Ohio State. There is no reason he can't average a double-double every night. Assuming that FIU will go to a full court press and try to force turnovers, Hamilton will likely move to a three guard line up early. Snaer is averaging 6 points per game in 20 minutes of play. However, this does not reflect his contribution on the defensive end of the floor. In the last three games his athleticism and ability to get to the basket has started to appear.
Keys to the Game:
1. Blow this team out of the water. This cannot or should not be a close game. It will reflect poorly on Florida State's out of conference play if this isn't a big game for the Seminoles. This also needs to be the game to get Florida State's offense back on track.
2. Get Snaer more minutes. Snaer needs to be confident in his role on this team going into ACC play. Seeing Shannon play some good minutes would be nice as well.
4. Set the tempo. Florida State needs to get out of the habit of reacting to team's personnel and styles of game play.
This should be a fun game to watch as the Seminoles should roll over the Panthers.