For the second time in three games FSU takes on an opponent who is better than their record or reputation in the media would indicate. Against Princeton it ended in a triple-overtime disaster. Today it is on the road, in their ACC opener, in hostile Littlejohn Coliseum where the Seminoles are 1-8 in Leonard Hamilton's tenure. The Tigers (8-6) have several close losses (Charleston, Coastal Carolina and South Carolina by a combined 7 points) and one good win (at Iowa). Brad Brownell's offense has been bad (193rd nationally) and like most of his teams they rarely get to the line. But Brownell isn't known as an offensive coach. He wins games with defense. And on that side of the ball this team is really good. His teams always pressure 2-pt shots, and the Tigers rank 64th nationally allowing 43.7% on 2s. Overall the defense is 39th. Only 4 of 14 opponents have scored more than a point per possession and on the season they're allowing just 0.92. They do a great job keeping teams from extending possessions, and will be one of the best defensive rebounding teams FSU will face this season. The Noles are 23rd at grabbing their own misses, so this will be a key to the game. Three players (Devin Booker, Milton Jennings and Tanner Smith) grab at least 18% of the missed shots while they're on the floor.
Offensively they're led by Andre Young (12.9 per game) who is having a somewhat disappointing senior season. He entered the year as a 39% career 3-pt shooter, but is only converting 34.5% this year. The other double-digit scorers are junior Devin Booker (11.1) and senior Tanner Smith (10.6).
For the Seminoles, they are now two games into their 3-guard experiment. The first half of the first game was a disaster, with the Noles having their worst half of basketball in the Leonard Hamilton era. But the staff adjusted how the team attacks and since then the Noles have scored 1.25 points per possession and are coming off their best offensive game in two years. This game will be key to demonstrating whether or not that output is a fluke. If the Noles can go on the road and score 1.10 or more per possession, then look out, this new offense could be for real. If not, the question of whether this lineup can get it done on the defensive end remains to be answered.
Clearly Vegas isn't sold on the new-found production as FSU is only a 1-point favorite. Pomeroy has FSU -2. The game tips at 4pm on ESPN2.