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FSU faces Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For teams looking to jump into the NCAA tournament, two goals for the out-of-conference portion of the season are:

  • No bad losses
  • At least one resume win

To date, FSU (4-1) has accomplished the former, and this is the first shot at the latter. The Seminoles get three cracks at picking up wins that will look impressive in March - at Iowa, vs VCU in Atlanta, and at Florida.The rest of the ooc schedule is four games that they can't lose without causing significant damage to the resume.

This will be the first true road game for the newcomers. Iowa, like most Big Ten schools, is not an easy place to play. Since the 2012-13 season they are 27-1 at home vs non conference opponents, with the one loss coming against No. 14 Iowa State last year.

The Hawkeyes have lost two close games this year to Dayton and Notre Dame, and they crushed Marquette and Wichita State. Pomeroy has them as the No. 21 team in the nation.

Iowa was a 7-seed in last year's NCAAT, and returns four of five starters. Jarrod Uthoff is the key to the team. The 6-9 senior reminds me of Florida's Dorian Finney-Smith in the way that he is a matchup problem. He can score from all three levels and seems equally comfortable in the post or on the perimeter. He's averaging 18.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. For his career he's a 40% 3-pt shooter, and has made 46% this year. That's a common theme with Iowa, who have made 41% of their 3s as a team.

If they have an offensive weakness, it's that they rely on their shooting too much. The Hawkeyes occasionally fall into stretches where they stop attacking and just shoot. Of course, their excellent shooting can cover up some otherwise poor possessions.

Two other seniors have been excellent this year. Mike Gesell is a 6-2 point guard who always has the ball in his hands. He's not a huge threat to score (8.8 ppg), though his ability to penetrate means that stalled possessions often end up with Gessell going one-on-one. His real threat is finding good shots for his teammates. He's assisted on 44% of the buckets when he's on the floor, which is 9th best nationally.

Senior center Adam Woodbury has also been excellent. This will be the first game that FSU really misses Michael Ojo, as Woodbury is very strong in the post.

The wildcard is 6-6 junior SG Peter Jok. He's athletic, and is long enough to shoot over the top of most guards, but his scoring (12.0 ppg) is primarily due to volume rather than efficiency.

The key for FSU will be getting enough stops, especially on longer shots, and being able to force transition. In Iowa's loss to Dayton, the Flyers were able to get a lot of easy buckets on the break. But getting stops is certainly easier said than done. This is the best offense that FSU has faced, and we can only hope that the young guys are up to the challenge.

The game tips at 9:20 and will be broadcast on ESPNU. Iowa is a 5.5 point favorite in Vegas, while Pomeroy gives them a bigger cushion at -8.

The game is part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which is tied at 4-4 heading into Wednesday's games.