After two exhibition games and a convincing win in the home opener, we still don't know much about this team. Kiel Turpin has been out with a knee injury - and had another MRI on Tuesday - while Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas sat out both preseason games and the first half of the opener due to disciplinary issues. Those two played in the 2nd half, but the rotations were still thrown out of whack because FSU's only other guards (Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon) hadn't had any rest.
Now the Noles travel to Orlando to take on UCF and we should get a better sense about how Ham is going to shuffle the rotations. He did use some 3-guard sets in the second half of the Jacksonville game, which is important to note, seeing that FSU only has four guards on the roster.
In the opener, Jacksonville pressed most of the game, and then fell back into a zone for all but a handful of possessions. Expect a lot of zone this year, as FSU wants to create gaps and attack off the dribble. Using a zone makes that more difficult. That said, I do expect more man-to-man out of UCF tonight.
The Knights are a solid team in the American Athletic Conference, and are picked to finish 5th. Three of the four ahead of them are top 15 teams. They're led by 6-5 Isaiah Sykes who might be the most talented player on the floor tonight. He averaged 16 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.3 steals last year, and was moderately efficient (101.7 oRtg) despite shooting just 32% from the arc. They also returned two other players in 6-8 Tristan Spurlock (11.4) and 6-1 Calvin Newell (11.1) who scored in double figures.
UCF takes a lot of threes and they like to attack the rim in order to get to the line. With the new foul rules leading to more free throws, that might be where the game is decided tonight.
The game tips at 7pm and will be broadcast on ESPN News. Pomeroy has UCF -3, and Vegas has UCF - 1.5.
In recruiting news, today was the start of college basketball's Early Signing Period. According to Cinmeon Bowers, the physical power forward from Chipola JC signed his letter of intent to play for the Noles next season. 3-star PG Robbie Berwick is expected to do the same, though he is from California so it's still early afternoon out west.