The students are gone. FSU's quarterback is all over the news. Fans are thinking about Auburn and oblong balls. So of course FSU basketball has perhaps its most important week of the out-of-conference season and not many people are paying attention.
The Noles (6-3) are on the tournament bubble even before there is a bubble. They are currently projected with a 46% chance of making the tourney. Which makes what happens this week absolutely critical. First - tonight - FSU hosts 7-2 Charlotte, and then on Saturday they play undefeated and nationally ranked UMass on a neutral floor.
To stay with roughly a 50/50 shot at dancing, the Noles need to beat a very good Charlotte team. We'll worry about UMass later.
FSU and Charlotte almost met in November at the Puerto Rico Tip Off. Instead, FSU watched their game vs Michigan slip away, at it was the Wolverines who played Charlotte for the tournament title. The 49ers won that game 63-61.
Aside from that Michigan game they haven't played a ton of quality opponents (they beat K-State for their 2nd best win). They lost at home to Davidson and lost on the road to Charleston Southern in one of the strangest games of the year - a game they led by 7 with 32 seconds left.
The 49ers (who FSU beat last year in Miami) like to get up and down the court. So, for the first time since the VCU game, the Noles won't be forced to play at a crawl. Their offense really isn't impressive though (158th nationally). They turn the ball over. They're not a great shooting team. Though, what they're really good at is a big concern. They live on the offensive glass. Charlotte is the 35th best offensive rebounding team in the nation, and FSU is 115th in defensive rebounding. If FSU wins that battle, they should win the game.
Charlotte's defense is pretty good (70th). They don't foul, and they do a good job on the weak side, forcing teams to beat their defenders one on one. This could be a big game for Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas. Charlotte has a 6-11 center who plays 70% of the team's minutes, so FSU will also look to establish their burgeoning post game. After struggling against some smaller teams, Boris Bojanovsky has now made 16 consecutive shots over the past three games.
If you're around Tallahassee, come on out. You'll get a free shirt and the Golden Girls are in town. Also, for those in football mode, FSU's first Heisman winner was a basketball player who dabbled in football on the side. So there.
The game tips at 7 pm from the Tuck and will be broadcast regionally and on ESPN3 (subject to blackout). The Noles are a 9.5 pt favorite in Vegas, and Pomeroy has FSU -9.