FSU has had some terrible roster luck in recent years, but don't look to Nicholls State head coach JP Piper for any sympathy. He's coached for 30 years and stated that last year was his toughest. He had a point guard who he counted on to be among the NCAA leaders in minutes played, only he broke his foot in an exhibition game and missed the entire season. His backup went into the doghouse, which left two walk-ons to run the team. They both got hurt.
The team's chemistry fell apart, and when the season ended at 10-19 (7-11), six players transferred.
Now, the injured point guard is back, the team chemistry has been rebuilt, and the Colonels are ready to go.
But regardless of how good they are, or how in-sync, this isn't a team which should challenge a top-half ACC club on their home floor.
That's not saying it won't happen. Just look at the home openers for Wisconsin, or Virginia Tech, or Illinois, or hey there Georgetown, or jeez, the hell NC State?
The good news is the Leonard Hamilton hasn't lost at home to a team rated higher than 200 in a decade. Nicholls State enters rated 309 by Ken Pomeroy.
The Colonels are led by Schane Rillieux, he of the repaired-foot. The 6-foot point guard had 10 assists in their lone exhibition. The scorers to watch are 6-4 senior TJ Carpenter (10.9 ppg last year), and 6-7 junior Luka Kamber who hit 37% of his 3s last season.
They also are a team who won't be intimidated by FSU's size. They have two 7-footers of their own. Kyle Caudill transferred from Boston College, and they also have Australian Liam Thomas.
Coach Piper is experienced, and has adjusted his style each year. His Nicholls State teams have ranged from very slow (335th in tempo) all the way to one of the fastest teams in the nation (No. 22). It will be interesting to see if they play a wide open game or try to slow FSU down. It's no secret that the Noles want to get out and run.
For FSU, one of the key issues will be settling on a rotation. Injuries have limited the team to about 10-deep, but look for Ham to begin tinkering with rotations. He'll utilize the option to occasionally go small, but he'll still need to find a lot of minutes for a deep perimeter rotation. We know Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Devon Bookert, and Montay Brandon (if healthy) will see plenty of action, so how will the rest fit in?
The game tips at 3PM from the Tuck and will be broadcast on ESPN3. I haven't been able to find a Vegas line (too many FSU injuries?) but Pomeroy has the Noles by 20.