We're 19 games into the season and FSU has the No. 3 strength of schedule nationally (of 351 D1 teams) and the No. 1 SOS in conference-only games. So from here on out, it has to get easier, right?
The new "easier" season starts at NC State, FSU's 5th road game in 8 ACC games. NC State (13-7, 3-4) is ranked just 97th by Pomeroy, which makes them FSU's weakest opponent since a December matchup with Charleston Southern. Still, it's a road game, which means that they can't just show up and expect to win.
The Wolfpack are about as much of a 1-man show as there is in the ACC. 6-8 sophomore T.J. Warren scores 22.1 per game (2x that of the next closest wolfman) and grabs 7.3 boards per game. The really interesting part is that he's taking 35% of the shots when he's on the floor. Not only is that the most in the ACC but it's the most of any high-major basketball player in the nation. He's efficient, he doesn't foul (committed more than 3 fouls just three times this season), and if you don't keep a body on him on the offensive glass he will raze your farms and villages. 42% of his shots come at the rim, and he has a knack for scoring on players regardless of their size, jumping ability, or quickness. In short, he's really good.
But since Ham's defense has a long track record of limiting the damage from players like Warren, it seems that if the Wolfpack win then some other player might be getting the game ball. Luckily, after eight short seasons, Scott Wood graduated and no longer is allowed to suit up. LSU transfer Ralston Turner has stepped into Wood's place, and is the only shooter in red who makes more than 27% of his 3s. Turner also isn't shy, as demonstrated by the 15 3-pointers he chucked vs Maryland. T.J. Warren, who has made 22.6% of his attempts (which is odd, as he made >50% last year), is the next highest volume 3-pt shooter, making 0.7 per game.
Freshman Cat Barber, listed generously at 6-2, 165, is the team's 2nd leading scorer at 11.1 per game. He'll be a star in the ACC's future, but for now he's a really quick, highly touted point guard who has yet to remove the really boneheaded plays from his playbook. The next time he makes half his shot attempts in an ACC game will be his first.
Junior Desmond Lee, a JUCO transfer, is averaging 10 points per game. Over half his shots come at the rim (51.3%) as he's a poor shooter. Think of him as Aaron Thomas without the NBA future.
Beyond those four guys, no one is even averaging 6 points per game. Overall their offense is rated 88th nationally, and they rarely (as evidenced by their shooting percentages) score from beyond the arc. Instead, they attack what FSU defends the best - at the rim. 63.6% of their scoring comes on 2s, which leads the nation.
Defensively, they are 122nd nationally, and have held one of seven ACC opponents below a point per possession. They are 224th in turnover%, and 285th in defensive rebounding. Look for FSU to push the tempo, search for early shots, and then crash the glass. NC State's offense will be focusing on crashing the glass as well. The Seminoles are the worst defensive rebounding team in the conference, and the gameplan is getting easy 2s off of putbacks.
The game tips at 9pm from PNC Arena in Raleigh, and will be broadcast on the ACC Network and ESPN3. The Noles are a 2.5 pt favorite in Vegas, and Pomeroy likes FSU by 5.