Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Noles travel to take on the ACC leader
Prior to Jim Larranaga's arrival in the greater Miami area the Huricanes had never finished with a winning record in the ACC. In year one (last year) they went 9-7 in a weak ACC, and now - in a much deeper conference - they're undefeated and have a 2-game lead (in the loss column) over NC State, Virginia, Duke and FSU. For FSU to keep pace with the other two-loss teams, they have the uphill battle of beating a heavily favored Canes team in their house.
The Canes get it done on defense. Only one ACC team (Boston College) has managed a point per possession against them. They have great size (10th in the nation in effective height) and experience (8th nationally). They defend in the exact opposite way that Leonard Hamilton does. They don't apply great pressure, rather they pack everything in, take away any hope of getting to the rim, and then limit teams to one shot. And they do this without fouling. They do a great job pinching drives with help defenders.
The one thing this system opens up is 3-point looks. There are 282 Division I teams which have given up fewer attempted 3s than Miami. But they are 39th in 3-pt defense. So why take them, right? A lot of analysis has gone into 3-pt defense of late, and all of it shows it to be about as effective as free throw defense. Defenses have very little control over opponent 3-pt%. The one thing they can control is how many they take. So in a word, Miami has been lucky. On teams with just a couple 3-pt options, Miami can focus on making sure that those players don't get open looks (though even that ability is vastly overrated by fans and announcers), but against a deep team like FSU or Duke, that's not so easy. Miami fans would like to think that Duke's 17% 3-pt shooting was due to great defense, but it wasn't. Florida State, to have any chance against the Canes, needs to flip that luck on its head and hit more than they're used to.
Offensively, Miami grinds out very effective possessions. They don't turn it over and they rarely take bad shots. They have loads on the inside, they have a pick-and-pop option in Kenny Kadji which can't really be defended, and they have guards who can get to the rack. One of those guards - Shane Larkin - might be the most improved player in the ACC. After looking very much like a freshman last year, he's now developed into a very dangerous player. The other guard - Durand Scott - is enjoying his 4th straight season as the conference's most underrated guard.
The only good news for Seminole fans is that Miami is 275th nationally in offensive rebounding.
The game tips at 6pm and will be broadcast on ESPNU. For the 2nd straight game, Vegas is far more bullish on the Noles than Pomeroy is. The Canes are -9 in Vegas, and -13 according to Pomeroy.