FSU vs Boston College preview and game thread

USA TODAY Sports

"Have fun stormin' the castle!" - Miracle Max

FSU's chances of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament took a crushing blow when Ian Miller's 3-pointer rimmed out in the final seconds vs Miami. With a win, the Noles would have had around a 25-30% of earning a bid. With the loss that chance dropped to something like 5%.

The more promising avenue to the dance might be repeating a run through the conference Tourney and defending their ACC Championship. The odds aren't very good that way either, but at least there's a chance. To improve that chance FSU needs to earn a 1st round bye, which requires finishing in the top-4 in the regular season. The Noles are currently 1-game back of UNC and NC State for that precious 4th spot.

With either scenario, winning at home versus Boston College is an absolute must.

This isn't your Eagles team from last year (which beat FSU). Last year BC had the youngest team in all of college basketball. This year they are still the sixth youngest, but the talent has been significantly upgraded and/or developed. Gone is 3-time transfer Matt Humphrey (aka "where the offense goes to disappear") and in his place is conference freshman of the year candidate Olivier Hanlan. The 6-4 Canadian is second on the team in scoring (14.0), rebounding (4.0) and assists (2.5). He draws fouls. He doesn't turn the ball over. In other words, he plays very unlike a freshman.

The other major difference on this team is the emergence of 6-8 sophomore Ryan Anderson. He averages 15.9 points and 8.5 rebounds. He's scored in double figures in 15 straight games, and has racked up six double-doubles.

These two have largely been responsible for BC's offensive improvement from 293rd nationally to 72nd. Defensively, though, this team still struggles. They're right where they were last year (193rd) because they don't force turnovers and they give up an awful lot of good looks.

If FSU is going to break out of its 8-game shooting slump, today is the day. BC's defense is 263rd in eFG%.

The interesting thing for FSU is seeing who coach Hamilton goes with. Against Miami, Michael Ojo and Devon Bookert earned their first career starts, and Aaron Thomas got his 2nd. Terry Whisnant didn't play until well into the 2nd half, and Montay Brandon never came off the bench. This left FSU with two injured players (Bookert and Ian Miller) running the point, but the offense put up a point per possession against one of the best defenses in the nation, and did that while shooting just 27% from deep.

That last stat - the 3-pt shooting - has me completely baffled. In the span of eight games this team went from one of the best 3-pt shooting teams in the nation to what is now the worst 3-pt shooting team in the ACC. FSU isn't going to fix its turnover issues. FSU isn't going to fix its lack of interior fire power. But the 3-pt thing is fixable. And it needs to begin today.

This might be BC, but they're still a dangerous team. Seven of their last ten losses are by 5 points or less, including 1-point losses to both Miami and Duke.

The game tips at noon from the Tuck, and will be broadcast on the ACC Network and ESPN3. The Noles are favored by 5.5 in Vegas, and by 5 via Ken Pomeroy.

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