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Win and We're In: Previewing FSU at NCST

The first time these two teams matched up it was a dunk fest for the Noles, who led by as many as 22 before the Wolfpack scored enough during garbage time to close the final gap to 84-71. But this time FSU is playing on the road, and without all-everything forward Chris Singleton. Win or lose the Noles have already locked up the 3rd seed in the ACC Tournament, but a loss would put the Noles on the outside looking in, and would need the conference tournament to play their way back in.

I previewed the state of the Wolfpack program last time around, which can be found here. The take home is that this is a very talented but poorly coached team. With Singleton out the two teams have the same number of consensus top-100 recruits suited up. The difference is that NCST doesn't really do anything well. They have an average offense (6th in conference) and a terrible defense (11th). They sit at 5-10 in conference, with 4 of those wins coming at home.

But still, this is a team very much set up to expose FSU without Singleton, due to match-up issues. They have an effective trio of bigs led by senior Tracy Smith who leads the team with 14.4 ppg. Lanky freshman CJ Leslie has tremendous upside, and leads the team in rebounds at 7.2, and recently went through a streak where he averaged 17 points and 8 boards over a six-game conference stretch. F Richard Howell does the dirty work and is the 2nd best offensive rebounder in the conference behind Miami's Reggie Johnson. So they have the size and athleticism to match FSU inside (even with Singleton), and then they have 6'6 sharp-shooter Scott Wood who's made 70 three pointers (4th in the ACC) and shoots over 43%. Without the versatility that Singleton brings (can guard any of those four), FSU is limited defensively. If NCST can exploit that, FSU will be headed to the ACC Tournament needing at lesat one good win to make the big dance.

Vegas has NCST favored by 1, though Pomeroy gives a 2 point edge to the Noles. The game tips at 615 on Fox Sports.