When Maryland visited the Tucker Center on Thursday night, it wasn't the result for which Seminoles fans were hoping. In a hard fought battle, the Seminoles lost 71-67 to a hot Maryland team that is currently sitting tied for second in the ACC rankings and in the top ten of the Pomeroy rankings. Say what you will about the game, but it is over and it is time to move on. There isn't the time or energy to dwell on losses in conference play this year. Tonight, the Seminoles welcome the Miami Hurricanes to the Tucker Center and hope to get another conference win before traveling to Clemson on Wednesday.
Tip Off: 8pm EST
Opponent's Website: Seventh Floor Blog
There are only eight games remaining in the Seminoles regular season schedule: four at home, four away. To say this is a must win may seem a little cliche, but with little time remaining in the regular season the Seminoles must win this game to keep pace in the ACC and to re-establish their home court. Currently, the Seminoles are in a three way tie for sixth place in the ACC, looking up at the likes of Duke, Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. Fortunately for the Seminoles, the remained of the schedule appears to be quite favorable, with a Pomeroy prediction of a 6-2 finish to year. Such a run to the end, would put the Seminoles at a respectable 10-6 in conference play. With so many teams from the Big East getting serious looks for the NCAA tournament, the differences between finishing 10-6, 9-7 and 8-8 in the ACC are more than significant, even though Pomeroy still ranks the ACC as the best conference in the country.
The Hurricanes look to hand the Seminoles a second conference loss in a row. Miami enters tonight's contest with a 16-6 record with a 2-6 conference record. They are tied for last in the conference with NC State. Like the Seminoles, Miami had major questions coming into this season after the departure of their outstanding point guard Jack McClinton. The hope was that the likes of Dwayne Collins, Malcom Grant and Adrian Thomas would be able to make up the scoring difference. There has been games in which the Hurricanes have been able to put up a lot of points on the board, but against some of the better defense, they have simply fallen short. In out of conference play, Miami had big wins against South Carolina and Minnesota. Once conference play began, the wheels fell off the bus. They lost their conference opener to Boston College in early December on the road and then won their home opener to Wake Forest in January. Since then, the Hurricanes have gone 1 - 5, with their only victory over Virginia Tech at home.
When you look at the numbers, the Hurricanes really shouldn't be a 2-6 team in the ACC. They currently rank 62nd overall in the Pomeroy Rankings, with a 109.4 Offensive Efficiency and 94.0 Defensive efficiency, which rank 61st and 74th respectively. They play at a moderate tempo and show you a variety of defensive looks. Where the Hurricanes struggle, like the Noles, is hanging on to the ball; they have a TO% of 22.2, which ranks 252 in the nation. They also shoot poorly from the free throw line. Turnovers and poor shooting from the free throw line will sink you to the bottom of the ACC. They do shoot the ball well with an eFG% of 53.5 and they also rebound well, thanks to the like of Dwayne Collins.
So why have the Hurricanes struggles in the ACC? In four out of their six losses, Miami's opponents have shot an eFG% of 53% or better. In those games, Miami has shot an eFG% of 53% or less in every single game. In their win over Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes shot an eFG% of 75%, which allowed them to win despite a TO% of 30.
Here is the likely starting lineup for the Hurricanes:
F #20 Cyrus McGowan 6'9 236lbs Senior 4.2 ppg 3.3 rpg
F #21 Dwayne Collins 6'8 238lbs Senior 11.7 ppg 8.2rpg
F #30 Adrian Thomas 6'7 227lbs Senior 7.2ppg 2.5 rpg
G #1 Durand Scott 6'5 180lbs Freshman 8.5ppg 3.8 apg
G #23 James Dews 6'4 209lbs Senior 12.4ppg 1.5 apg
Clearly, this is a big experienced lineup. McGowan, while starting 19 games only plays about 15 minutes a game. Malcom Grant is their biggest contributor off the bench, scoring 9.9 points in 24 minutes of game play. Miami could go to a smaller starting lineup by replacing McGowan with Grant. However, given the size of the Seminoles front court, Miami might go big to get started. But, Miami has seen what pressure has done to the Noles and might force Hamilton to go with a smaller three guard lineup if Miami can effectively press the Noles.
Dwayne Collins is their work horse down low. He is absolutely killing it on the offensive glass this year with an OReb% of 15.9, which is 9th in the nation. He has a DReb% of 26.0 which is 20th in the nation. If the Noles effectively shut down the paint, they will have to watch out for the three point threats of Grant, Dews and Thomas. All three players are shooting better than .400 from beyond the arc. And Miami likes to shoot the three ball. In fact, they have scored 31.9% of their points from deep, which ranks 59th in the nation. Florida State has to play good perimiter defense tonight or they could be in trouble, particularly if Miami gets any confidence.
The Seminoles starters will be the following:
F #31 Chris Singleton 10.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg
F #42 Ryan Reid 7.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
C #32 Solomon Alabi 12.8 ppg, 2.5 bpg
G #4 Deividas Dulkys 9.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg
G #22 Derwin Kitchen 8.9 ppg, 4.0 apg
That stat most strongly correlated with the Seminoles success is their opponents eFG%. With one exception, every team that has shot an eFG% over 50% against the Noles has won. Maryland snuck away with a victory shooting an eFG% of 45%. Unfortunately, the Seminoles only shot an eFG% of 40%. Not surprisingly, the second most significant stat associated with Seminoles victories is their own eFG%. Devidias Dulkys needs to have a good game tonight. He has only made six three point shots in his last six starts while attempting 26 shots from beyond the arc. Singleton continues to impress on the defensive end. He is currently leading the conference in steals per game, but is leading the conference in turnovers as well. Alabi is developing nicely into a more complete player as well. His offensive rating is an outstanding 117.5, which is superb for a big man. His eFG% is 58.8 and he is doing nicely on the glass as well with an OReb% and Dreb% of 12.1 and 17.0 respectively.
Keys to the Game:
1. Don't give the Hurricanes any hope. The Hurricanes would love to get off to a hot start from beyond the arc and not have to worry about penetrating the Seminole's defense.
2. Move on from Maryland. It's a disappointing loss, but this young Noles team cannot get caught looking at the past or ahead to their match-up with Clemson.
3. Get Good Shots. Be patient. Don't force up a shot simply because you think your open. Get to the basket. Michael Snaer is really starting to emerge into a great player. Get him the ball and let him drive to the paint.
4. Be efficient. This ties in points 1 and 3. Don't give Miami and extra shots or possessions. Make them work, wear them down. The Seminole's bench is too deep for the Hurricanes.
Prediction: Florida State 67 Miami 60
This game will come down to the Seminoles ability to limit Miami's perimeter shooting.
Online Viewing: NolesTv
SBNation Coverage: Hurricanes vs Seminoles coverage