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ACC Championship Preview: Florida State vs. Duke, 3/15 at 1pm EST


Two Down. One to go.

ATLANTA - MARCH 14:  Chris Singleton #31 and Luke Loucks #3 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrate with Toney Douglas #23 after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 73-70 during the semifinals of the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 14, 2009 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. From Getty Images.

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After upsetting the #1 team in the country, the Seminoles look to win three in a row and earn their first ACC Championship ever.

Preview inside...

(It's good to be back...)


I'll be honest with you, I never thought I would be writing this post. I never thought that the Seminoles would win two games in the ACC Tournament. I never thought we would upset the #1 team in the country in the second round of the ACC Tournament. I'm glad I was wrong.

This afternoon, the Seminoles have the chance to win their first ever ACC Tournament Championship ever. (Take a deep breath and read that one again)

Yesterday, the Noles upset the Number 1 team in the nation to earn their first vist ACC Tournament Championship Game. The ACC POY the year brushed it aside: "We wanted to win this real bad," said Lawson, who did some shooting before the game before watching from the bench when a protective shoe on his ailing foot. "But our big goal is the national championship." Fair enough. But I'm sure, the Tarheels would have loved put another ACC Tournament Championship Trophy in their case. Bobby (Who?) Frasor had the following to say: " "It's not the end of the world. We'd rather be playing (Sunday), but we played our season to be playing on the last Monday." As Toney Douglas put it after the game, "We've come a long way. But we're still hungry. We're never satisfied." That is exactly the attitude that has carried our young team to where it is today. Ty Lawson may be the "best player in the ACC," but the Noles took this one today. Honestly, even if Ty Lawson was playing, I still think the Noles win this one. Sure, I have a biased opinion but look at the numbers:




Once again, the 'Noles forced an elite team to play their style of basketball.The Tarheels averaged 76 possessions per game during the year. Yesterday, the 'Noles held them to only 63. Forcing teams into the half court offense is the Seminoles specialty. We held Pittsburgh to one of their lower paces of the year and their lowest point total of the year. We held Duke to one of their lowest point totals of the year and one of their lowest paces of the year. The Wake game was an anomoly. We held Clemson to one of their lowest paces of the year and their second lowest point total of the year. We take control of games. We force teams out of their comfort zone. Guess what...even if we don't win today, we will do damage in the ACC Tournament because we take teams out of their comfort zone.

What else went well yesterday? Despite missing numerous opportunities early, we had an eFG% of 56%, miles ahead of UNC's 40.7%, which is probably one of their lowest of the season. Despite having a 22.2% TO%, we cound a way to win the game. Our steal percentage was a very low 4.8%. But...We out rebounded UNC...51.2 to 48.8% overall and 42 to 40 on the offensive and and 60 to 57% on the defensive end. These are subtle diffeferences, but in a close game this is what you need to win.

Here are the game stats from yesterday:



We did everything we could to win this game. And, I couldn't be happier. We needed this. We needed the confidence to beat an elite team, with or without Ty Lawson, before heading into the tournament.

How did we do it:

ATLANTA - MARCH 14:  Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots against Solomon Alabi #32 of the Florida State Seminoles during the semifinals of the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 14, 2009 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. From Getty Images.



Florida State guard Toney Douglas (23) drives against North Carolina guards Deon Thompson and Bobby Frasor (R) in the second half during NCAA basketball action at the ACC tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, March 14, 2009. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.


University of North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough (C) looks to pass the ball around a host of Florida State defenders during the semi-final round of the ACC college basketball tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia March 14, 2009. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

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Which lead to:

Florida State guard Chris Singleton reacts after a basket in the second half of NCAA basketball action against North Carolina at the ACC tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, March 14, 2009. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.


Florida State guard Toney Douglas (23) sits on the court as the rest of his teammates celebrate their 73-70 victory over No. 1 North Carolina in an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament in Atlanta, Saturday, March 14, 2009. Florida State defeated North Carolina 73-70. From AP Photo by AP.

Toney Douglas led the way with 27 points in 38 minutes with 4 assists and 3 turnovers. He went 4-5 from the line, had 4 rebounds and....0 steals. Alabi and Kitchen each had 11 points. Alabi played 32 minutes and went 5-9 from the floor with 5 rebounds. He looked great when he got the ball on the offensive end. Despite getting double and triple teamed, he got his points. He needs to be more confident and elevate over his opponents. His jump hook is improving and he is getting more aggresive. This kid is going to be outstanding possible All-American in the future. (I'm not exagerating) Uche had a very quiet game. 2 points on 1-6 shooting in 24 minutes of play. I'm not sure if his back is still bothering him...he's seen less minutes and had less production recently. Reid played 18 minutes with 6 points and 7 board. He had only 1 documented turnover, but he was sloppy in his play and had some questionable plays on offense. Dibble once and pick the ball up and get yourself into trouble...not going to help in the long run.  Unfortunately, Singleton had a few amazing moments and many low moments, turnig the ball over on sloppy play. He had 7 points in 7 minutes with 2 rebounds and 1 block. He had 4 turnovers and fouled out of the game. However, I disagree with many of those calls...and for those of you who watched the game...he didn't step out of bounds on the steal...Check the rules refs. Dulkys also had an up and down game. He had 9 points going 3-6 from three point land but had two terrible turnovers and his defense was not up to Hamilton standards, allowing UNC to go on a 6 or so point run at one point as a result of his decisions.

Enough about UNC...bring on DUKE. Guess what, beating a team three times in one year is difficult and is one of the many reasons why I'm glad we played GTech instead of Clemson.

Duke has played a tough schedule of late. Winning a close one against us, then losing to UNC then barely winning against BC and Maryland. Here is what they did against the Terps:




Anybody notice a glaring difference?Free throw shooting. Remember my last preview about the Duke game? And the post game reaction? Duke gets away with stuff like this and this. But remember, Scheyer is a great guy and funny too?

I'm not going to get into a discussion about homer and refs...but I'm just saying:



I promise I won't comment further about it. Just seems awfully convenient.

So what about our match-up with Duke? What has changed since March 3rd?

Here are Duke's numbers: (This does not include the game against Maryland)

Raw Tempo: 69.8 poss/40 min  National Rank=62
Adj Tempo: 68.0 poss/40 min National Rank=102

Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 111.8 ( 17) 93.8 ( 27)
Adj Efficiency : 117.4 ( 11) 89.3 ( 14)

Effective FG% : 51.0 ( 97) 47.3 ( 93)
Turnover Pct. : 17.7 ( 24) 23.6 ( 26)
Off. Rebound% : 37.9 ( 30) 32.6 (160)
Free Throw Rate: 41.0 ( 53) 31.3 ( 55)

3-Point FG% : 34.2 (157) 33.7 (138)
2-Point FG% : 50.9 ( 68) 46.2 ( 99)
Free Throw Pct.: 72.0 ( 72) 68.7 (167)
Block Pct. : 9.9 (258) 9.8 (107)
Steal Pct. : 8.1 ( 28) 12.4 ( 24)

3PA/FGA : 34.5 (127) 25.6 ( 4)
A/FGM : 50.0 (258) 44.5 ( 9)


And here are our numbers for comparison: (Again, these do not include the UNC game):

Raw Tempo: 68.6 poss/40 min  National Rank=99
Adj Tempo: 67.7 poss/40 min National Rank=113

Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 99.9 (203) 93.4 ( 20)
Adj Efficiency : 104.3 (117) 87.9 ( 8)

Effective FG% : 48.8 (179) 44.4 ( 16)
Turnover Pct. : 22.8 (295) 23.1 ( 40)
Off. Rebound% : 35.4 ( 81) 35.3 (271)
Free Throw Rate: 39.6 ( 87) 35.4 (153)

3-Point FG% : 33.6 (184) 32.2 ( 58)
2-Point FG% : 48.0 (173) 42.2 ( 17)
Free Throw Pct.: 72.5 ( 55) 68.4 (136)
Block Pct. : 8.2 (126) 16.1 ( 6)
Steal Pct. : 10.2 (213) 12.4 ( 25)

3PA/FGA : 33.4 (155) 36.4 (284)
A/FGM : 52.6 (212) 47.4 ( 25)

So against UNC, we turned the ball over our expected number of times and our defense lived up to expectations and we allowed our opponent to have a great OReb%. But, we shot the ball way better than expected and we finally rebounded the ball well. Typically, if we shoot the ball well...we win.

So what are the things that we need to do against Duke? If you want to beat Duke, your best chance is to limit their shooting percentage. Going back to correlations, when your defense does a great job of limiting Duke's are more likely to win the game. The correlation efficient is +0.86. (See my previous posts for an explanation if you're new to the site...and welcome!) The next strongest correlation is Duke's shooting eFG%...when they go off...they will win.  Interestingly, the next strongest correlation is Duke's ability to limit their opponents OReb%, which is something we're actually improving on..sort of:



The percentage has gone up since the beginning of the year, but our overall OReb% has decreased since the ACC season has started. You would hope that this is due to the fact that we are playing some of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country. However, Wake Forest has the best Defensive OReb% in the conference and ranks 75th in the nation. However, if you look at offensive OReb% there are 4 teams in the top 25 in the nation from the ACC (Boston College, North Carolina, Clemson and Miami). Duke is 30th and we're 81st.


The things that help Duke win: eFG%. The things that help Duke's opponents win: Defensive eFG&, Defensive OReb%, TO% and Defensive FT Rate % (meaning how often does Duke get to the doesn't help Duke win...but it helps their opponents lose...make sense?) Other things that help Duke to lose...their own TO% and their ability to limit OReb% by their opponents. However, the strongest correlation is Duke's opponent's ability to prevent Duke from shooting a high percentage and that plays directly in to our hands.

Here is what we did last time against Duke:



We almost beat them in Cameron. We shot the ball extremely well and played at a high tempo pace, which is very uncharacteristic for both teams. However, it may have been the Noles strategy. Duke likes the half court set. Duke likes to rock you to sleep on defense and hit the open jump shot. They are the opposite of North Carolina. So, maybe playing the up temp transition game is what we need to do to win. Pace does not have much of a correlation to Duke winning or losing, it does impact their defense slightly more but not statistically significant. In our two losses to Duke, we played a relatively low tempo game (the first one) and a high tempo game (the second one), losing both. However, they ranked in the bottom third of Duke eFG% nights and we almost won both games.


Our defense is playing out of its mind right now. I really think we are a different team than Duke saw a few weeks ago. Toney is on an absolute mission and is playing brilliant defense. Solomon has finally come out of his shell. And Kitchen is showing flashes of brilliance. Toney said that the 'Noles played for 40 minutes against UNC...we need another complete effort. We need to get rid of the Singleton mental errors. Uche needs to appear. Solomon need to dominate inside. In case you're wondering, Toney is finally getting the national press he deserves.

Here are the likely lineups (And the stats from their previous game):


Kyle Singler, F 40 3-12 2-3 6-6 8 11 3 1 2 4 2 14
Lance Thomas, F 14 0-1 0-0 2-2 2 2 0 1 0 1 3 2
Gerald Henderson, G-F 33 3-14 1-3 1-2 1 5 4 0 0 1 0 8
Elliot Williams, G 15 1-4 0-2 0-0 3 4 0 0 0 1 2 2
Jon Scheyer, G 37 6-12 4-10 6-7 0 2 1 0 1 1 1 22

Florida State:

Uche Echefu, F 24 1-6 0-1 0-0 5 8 1 0 0 2 3 2
Solomon Alabi, C 32 5-9 0-0 1-2 2 5 0 0 2 0 3 11
Derwin Kitchen, G 36 4-6 1-2 2-2 1 9 6 3 0 1 2 11
Toney Douglas, G 38 10-18 3-8 4-5 1 4 4 0 0 3 1 27
Chris Singleton, F 17 3-6 1-3 0-0 0 2 0 0 1 4 5 7


Duke has gone small, now running a three guard line up with Scheyer at what they are now calling the "point position." I didn't get to see a lot of the Maryland game, but apparently, he is more comfortable and this is "working" for Duke. This is essentially the same line up they have been running for a while but have simply changed the "roles." Don't look at their starting line up against us in Cameron as it was Senior Night for Duke and they, like we did for our Seniors, started the likes of Greg Paulus. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Zoubeck makes an appearance in the starting line up to match up with Alabi. I really hope that Hamilton does not make an adjustment to our starters. Force Duke to play big. Our guys are athletic enough to play against Duke's "relatively" smaller size. Duke is a big team but we're just as athletic. But, we need to highlite our size and take care of the glass. No extended possessions for Duke...that will kill us.

Douglas needs to continue to control the tempo of the game and the mindset of our team. He needs to keep us under control and not let the emotions of the young guys get out of hand. Duke is beatable. I know I said in the ACC preview that we match up better against UNC, but Duke is very beatable.

The keys will be:

  • Closing out on shots. Contest every shot. No easy looks. Duke thrives on jump shooting.
  • Win the battle of the boards and there is no excuse not to. Zoubeck is nothing compared to Alabi.
  • Limit the big three. Meaning, don't allow Singler, Scheyer and Henderson to have great games. If one of them does, so be it, but don't allow all of them to score close to 20 points.
  • Don't get frustrated by the whiste. It's going to happen ealy and often.
  • Be patient.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say we win this game. 74-72 in an absolute grinder. This should be fun folks, enjoy it.

The game will televised on ESPN. For those of you in the ACC area, it will be televised on Raycom Sports. Check here for your local affiliate. Look for the usual link on and Sirius XM users check out Channel 190.

Take it to 'em Toney

Keep them Focused.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - FEBRUARY 14:  Head coach Leonard Hamilton of the Florida State Seminoles yells to his team against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their game at Lawrence Joel Coliseum on February 14, 2009 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. From Getty Images.

And Let's Bring Home a Chamionship

Florida State guard Toney Douglas lies on the court as he celebrates their win over North Carolina to advance to the finals during NCAA basketball action at the ACC tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, March 14, 2009. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.


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