Florida State fans are thrilled (and rightfully so) that next year's roster will include a McDonald's All American in Dwayne Bacon. But for Duke - tonight's opponent at the Tuck - having just one would be a disaster. The Blue Devils (20-3, 7-3) began the year with nine McDonald's All Americans on the roster. After they kicked Rasheed Sulaimon off the team they were down to eight. Sulaimon's replacement, of course, is a consensus top 25 recruit who had been languishing on the bench.
Duke has eight players who were more highly rated recruits than anyone on FSU's roster. Coach K has earned his place in the basketball hall of fame, but let's be honest, with the talent he has this year a squirrel could coach them to a successful ACC season. Kentucky is the only team in the nation that can match Duke's eight top-40 players.
It begins with freshman Jahlil Okafor. The likely No. 1 pick in next year's draft, Okafor is simply the best big man in the nation. He's averaging 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds. In ACC play he's made 62% of his 2s, is the best offensive rebounder in the conference, and the 3rd best at getting to the line. His weakness is free throws (57%), and while none of FSU's 7-footers can guard him one-on-one (no one in the ACC can), their length can cause issues and they'll be free to foul.
When teams inevitably double down on Okafor, then they get to watch a collection of slashers and shooters go to work. Senior Quinn Cook, and freshmen Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow are all in double figures. Cook shoots the most threes of that group, while the 6-6 Winslow plays with the energy and attitude that all coaches covet. Jones and Winslow are both projected as 1st rounders, and Winslow is expected to be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
Duke has the 4th best offense in the nation, and they pretty much do everything well.
The chink in their armor - as it has been for four years now - is that the team doesn't defend at an elite level. They're 48th in the nation. In conference-only games, they're 8th in the ACC.
Prior to holding Notre Dame to 60 points in 62 possessions, Duke had allowed opponents to score more than a point per possession in five straight games.
For FSU to have any chance at the upset, the Noles absolutely have to take advantage on that end of the court. They'll have to do two things they don't do well: shoot threes and take care of the ball.
FSU will likely try to pound the ball inside and hope they can get Okafor to pick up some fouls. Beyond that, the Noles need a steady game from Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and they need Devon Bookert to open up the defense.
The game tips at 7 pm and will be broadcast on ESPN. Duke is an 10 ½ point favorite.