Out of conference play is behind us and the results weren't that good for the ACC. Duke lost both their high profile games. UNC might have the best three wins in the nation, but they also have three very questionable losses. Notre Dame not only lost games they shouldn't have, but they also lost their best player. And Virginia and BC haven't been the teams people expected.
All of that is important for FSU because it dictates what the Noles need to do in conference play in order to make the dance. The good news is that they enter with a strong resume. Now they just need to make sure they have a winning conference record, and that starts today.
The Hoos (9-4) don't have any bad losses, but their most recent game has many people claiming that their season is pretty much over. They went to Tennessee at got blown out by 35. But the Vols are a good team (No. 26 at Ken Pom) and it was one of those freak events where a crappy shooting team hit 61% of their 3s and 88% of their FTs. Virginia isn't a team to take lightly because of one bizarre game.
Like FSU, Virginia is average on the offensive end, but elite on defense. They're ranked No. 8 nationally in defensive efficiency. They're the 9th best defensive rebounding team in the nation, they don't put people on the line, and only seven teams (including FSU) hold opponents to a worse % on 2-pointers. They slow the game to a crawl and force you to beat them with jump shots.
On offense, they've suddenly become loose with the ball. Tony Bennett teams are noted for their ability to put together effective possessions, so it really sticks out that they're 273rd in turnover%. This after the only player they lost from last year's team was the turnover prone Jontel Evans.
Joe Harris is still the team leader and a very dangerous player (39% on 3s, 57% on 2s), and sophomore Justin Anderson provides an efficient second scorer, but the rest of the team has disappointed. 6-8 senior Akil Mitchell has taken a major step back, and 6-11 sophomore Mike Tobey has failed to advance his game as much as was expected.
This should be a physical, tough, low possession game - everything we would expect from FSU vs Virginia. FSU is going to have to knock down 3s when they're open, and grind out some possessions at the rim. The game tips at 5pm on ESPN2. FSU opened as a 5 1/2 point favorite and it has since dropped to 3 1/2 to 4. Pomeroy has the Noles -5.