It's go time. At 4-4 in the ACC the Noles are currently projected in the 9/10 seed range in the most recent s-curve projection at Team Rankings. But FSU has already played the toughest conference schedule, and is the only ACC team to have played five conference road games. Now the Noles get three of the next four at home, and have a chance to move away from the bubble and back into safer waters.
Today's opponents is Clemson (13-6, 4-3), who is a half game up in the standings. Leonard Hamilton has had Coach Brownell's number of late, winning five straight vs the Tigers. And no player on the Seminole roster has lost to the Tigers at home during their career.
Clemson's Brad Brownell is building his program in the mold of FSU's. Recruiting at Clemson is no easy task, so Brownell focuses on long athletes who can be utilized in a stifling, defensive scheme. It's tough to get into the gaps against Clemson, and like FSU, they make it very difficult to score around the rim. They try to force teams to work a lot of time off the clock and settle for long jumpers. In the first meeting FSU's defense held Clemson to just 2 points in the game's first 7+ minutes. The lead was maintained, and then Devon Bookert went on a 1-man run in the 2nd half. Eventually Clemson had to try and play catch up by running with FSU, and at that point the game was pretty much over.
To repeat that, FSU needs to play the same game. They need to force turnovers and bad shots and convert those to easy buckets on the other end. This is a "landslide" game for FSU - meaning that FSU's offense relies of FSU's defense getting stops. If the defense does its job, then the offense can extend the lead into double digits. But if Clemson gets buckets, they can set their defense and make it that much harder for FSU to score. That's how Clemson would pull the upset.
The good news is that FSU was only 1-11 from the arc in the first game. The Noles have been shooting much better since then and are the No. 1 3-pt shooting team in ACC play. It can be debilitating for a defense to play great for 30 seconds only to have Ian Miller or one of the other guards drain a deep shot late in the clock.
The game tips at 3 pm and will be broadcast on ESPN2. FSU is a 7.5-8 point favorite in Vegas, and Pomeroy has the Noles -7.