Coming off their first trip to the Sweet-16 since 1993, the Noles look to start the 2011-12 season in successful fashion with a win in their opener against Jacksonville. This isn't the Jacksonville team which went to Gainesville and knocked off UF last year, but they're still dangerous. If they weren't in the same conference as Belmont they'd be favored to make the NCAA Tournament. But the A-Sun is a 1-bid conference, and Belmont is the team to beat, so JU's likely destination is the NIT.
The primary difference between last year's Jacksonville team and this year's is the graduation of Ayron Hardy. Hardy was the leading scorer, their 2nd leading rebounder, and a 2-time Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year. And it's that last part which will be most difficult to replace. Cliff Warren's teams have only once ranked amongst the country's top-150 offenses, and this team won't threaten 200. FSU should be able to shut them down. But defensively Warren's teams have been solid, with the 2nd best defense in the conference each of the past two seasons. They'll be a real challenge for FSU's offense which hasn't cracked the top-100 since Toney Douglas's junior year. If FSU scores more than 1.10 points per possession, consider that a victory. Either way, prepare yourself for an ugly game. Two bad offenses, one good defense and one great defense is not the recipe for aesthetic basketball.
If the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores, than Jacksonville should be in good hands as four freshmen made contributions last season. The one to keep an eye on is Keith McDougald, who – on a team which took very few 3s (326th out of 345 D1 teams) – attempted more 3s than any other player. He only converted 35% though, and he'll need to step that up as a sophomore. Another player to watch is senior Delwan Graham who is one of the best rebounders in the conference.
FSU's defense should be too much for Jacksonville. Ken Pomeroy has FSU winning by 14.