Coming off of three straight losses and now having to play without Ian Miller, the Noles (4-4) look to get things right vs Maine (3-5).
The Black Bears are an athletic team with a lot of new faces and questions as to who the point guard is (sound familiar?). They lost three starters, their top two point guards, and then the heir apparent at point left school to play professionally in Israel. Now they're left with two of the top players in the conference, who are surrounded by a cast in which Coach Woodward is looking for consistency (sound familiar?).
Sophomore Justin Edwards doesn't look like your typical America East conference player. He's a strong, athletic guard, who is part of the young group of players establishing Canada as a player on the international scene. Like Andrew Wiggins and Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Edwards is from the Toronto area, and he was one of the final cuts this past year on their National team. He's averaging 15.8 points per game and dominates the team's usage rates. He's not a 3-point threat, and he struggles going left, but he can create space and get to the rim. On defense, his 4.4% steal rate is one of the best in the nation.
The other player to watch is 6-7 forward Alasdair Fraser, a junior from Scotland. He's an elite rebounder, a solid shot blocker, and is 2nd on the team scoring 13.8 per game.
But even with these two talented players, the Black Bears are a team which FSU should handle easily. They don't have serious 3-point threats (337th nationally), and they play uptempo without forcing turnovers. In other words, they play directly into the strengths of FSU.
The Noles are going to look for consistency in effort and execution. How soon they find that combination will determine the fate of this team. With Ian Miller out with a bone bruise, one of the young guards has a chance to establish himself. Terry Whisnant should be able to get some open looks in this game, and Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon and Aaron Thomas should be able to show off their transition skills.
But if you've watched the previous eight games, then you know that none of this should be taken for granted. FSU could win by 40, and they could be in a tight battle coming down the stretch.
The game tips from the Tuck at 4 pm and will be broadcast on ESPNU. Vegas has the Noles as a 19-point favorite, and Pomeroy has FSU -18.