Preview and Game Thread: Florida State Seminoles vs North Carolina Tarheels, 7pm EST

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Upset alert? Depends on your perspective. Given the disappointment that has been the in conference schedule for the North Carolina Tarheels, Florida State should expect to win this game. But, nothing is guaranteed in Chapel Hill, no matter how good or bad a season North Carolina may be having. Winning this game is important for a number of reasons. It's an road win. It's North Carolina. Everyone else has taken care of business against the Tarheels.

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Game Time: 7:00pm EST

Opponent's Site: Carolina March

Television: ESPN

Live Stats: scacchoops.com

Toney Douglas's departure generated many questions about the Florida State Seminoles. Imagine what the impact of the departure of Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson and Danny Green would have on a team. Unfortunately for Roy Williams and all of the Tarheels' fans, the entire nation is seeing what the departure of talent and leadership can have on a team. UNC only has two seniors on the team and has one of the youngest teams in the nation. They rank 290th in the nation in experience. The drop off in their success may not be surprising. But, consider this fact. Florida State and Georgia Tech are ranked 299th and 302nd in the nation in experience. In case you're wondering, Kentucky is ranked 339th in the nation, demonstrating that youth does not equal automatic failure.

Before the season started, UNC was predicted to be one of the better teams in the country. It was felt that even though there was a significant departure of talent, Roy Williams brought in an outstanding freshman class and UNC would get away with it. In the early going, it appeared that the Tarheels would be one of the national contenders. They took care of Ohio State, only to lose on the next night to Syracuse by 16. They beat Michigan State only to lose to Kentucky by two points. Two weeks later, Texas handed the Tarheels their third loss of the season. It's hard to argue that any of those losses were terrible losses. They were all away from home and against the elite teams in the nation.

Then the team that only scored less than 70 points per game once in out of conference play, stopped scoring once the new year started. Since their January 4th overtime loss to the College of Charleston, UNC has not scored more than 80 points in a game. In their out of conference schedule, UNC scored less than 80 points on three occasions: Syracuse, Kentucky Ohio State. Since the CofC game, they have scored less than 70 points in six games. The fewest points that UNC scored in 2009 was 76 points in a win over Virginia.

This chart really demonstrates the significant decline in scoring:

 

 

Looking at the numbers, it's hard to believe that UNC is really 3-9 in the ACC. It makes more sense after watching a few of their games, but there is a relative discordance between UNC's record, talent and statistics. The Tarheels are 57th in the Pomeroy ratings. They have the 84th best offense and 47th best defense. They play at a blistering pace, rebound well, block a lot of shots and are a big team. They are the 4th tallest team in the nation. Their eFG% is a respectable 49.3%.

UNC gets into trouble in a couple of major statistical categories. They turn the ball over on 21.1% of possessions. 11.7% of their possessions result in steals. So what? Florida State turns the ball over all the time. But, the Seminoles force turnovers at a rate almost equal to that. UNC does not force enough turnovers, creating a significant turnover differential. Additionally, they do not get to the line and they do not shoot the ball well when they get to the line. This may play right into the hands of the Seminoles, but look at the Four Factors Evaluation:

 

 

While Florida State can and should win this game, nothing is guaranteed. Just ask Wake Forest.

Line Ups:

North Carolina

F #1 Marcus Ginyard 6'5 210 Senior 8.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg;
F #21 Deon Thompson 6'9 245lbs Senior 14.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg
F #31 John Henson 6'10 195 Freshman 4.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg
G #11 Larry Drew II 6'2 180 Sophomore 8.9 ppg, 5.9 apg
G #13 Will Graves 6'6 240lbs Junior 9.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Florida State

F #31 Chris Singleton 6'9 227lbs Sophomore
F #42 Ryan Reid 6'8 237lbs Senior
C #32 Solomon Alabi 7'1 251lbs Sophomore
G #21 Michael Snaer 6'5 200lbs Freshman
G #22 Derwin Kitchen 6'4 198lbs Junior

While every FSU fan should wish Ed Davis a speedy recovery, this is a different team without him. John Henson was an outstanding player, but has yet to reach his potential in the 13 minutes a game that he is playing.  His minutes have significantly increased since the end of January. Unfortunately for the Tarheels, Ed Davis was their best all around player. However, Deon Thompson is having a great year. He has an ORtg of 107 and is doing a nice job on the glass. He is their leading scorer and is currently averaging 14 points per game. Florida State will need to keep him quiet early and prevent any big plays around the basket, which in turn will keep the crowd relatively quiet. Larry Drew is developing nicely at the point guard position and averages almost 6 assists per game. Is he a Ty Lawson? Not yet and he's only a sophomore.

This play demonstrates Larry Drew's quickness and the type of offense that UNC would like to run: complex screens leading to easy baskets by athletic big men.

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This a high set with a couple of early back screens that set up to get Drew moving free on the wing, forcing Georgia Tech to roll the defense, leaving Thompson open on the backside. Fortunately, Florida State is long enough and athletic enough to help and recover. They are going to have to be committed to a team approach to man to man defense and recognize the set up of such plays. UNC would prefer to get out in transition and look to score early in the shot clock. If Florida State can force a true half court game on both ends of the court they can win this game. Michael Snaer will once again be key to the Seinoles success. He doesn't need to put up huge numbers. He needs to continue to play outstanding defense.

This should be a great game and an important one for the Noles.

 

Prediction: Florida State 71 UNC 67

Game Time: 7:00pm EST

Opponent's Site: Carolina March

Television: ESPN

Live Stats: scacchoops.com

Random Fact From Seminoles.com

SINGLETON AMONG NATION'S TOP DEFENDERS
ACC All-Defensive Team candidate Chris Singleton, who is the ACC leader in steals (2.3 spg) and ranked fifth in blocked shots (1.6 bpg), enters Wednesday's game against North Carolina looking to become only the fifth player in ACC history to finish in the top five in the conference statistics in both blocked shots and steals in the same season. Singleton would join Wake Forest's Josh Howard (2002-03), Duke's Shane Battier (1999-00 and 2000-01) and Duke's Christian Laettner (1990-91) as the only players in ACC history to finish in the top five in both statistical categories. Battier was named the National Player of the Year in both 1999-00 and 2000-01. Of the four players who have finished in the top five in both categories in the same season, only Battier in 2000-01 finished in the top four of both categories.

Go NOLES!!!

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