It's rare that a JUCO transfer spends four years at a high major, but that's what Kiel Turpin has done. After leading his team to back-to-back junior college national titles, he arrived at FSU and spent a redshirt year helping the Noles to the ACC Championship. At that point he had three rings in three years.
The three years since then have been different. First, he logged minutes at center while a freshmen laden team slogged through a 9-9 ACC season. Then he missed a year with an injury. At the end of that year he went through senior day ceremonies because the NCAA kept delaying their decision and he didn't know if he'd receive a medical redshirt. But he did, only to come back and have the team's best player kicked off the team eight games into the year.
Now he's celebrating a second senior day, and since he's actually played this year this senior day will likely have more of an impact. Wherever Big Turp goes from here, we wish him luck.
His final regular season game will come against Pittsburgh, a team which beat Florida State back in January. The Panthers (19-12, 8-9) have lost back-to-back games and are spiraling out of the NCAA tournament picture. A loss to FSU would seal their fate.
When Pitt beat FSU in mid-January, they did it in classic Pitt fashion. They didn't turn the ball over. And they were a rebounding machine.
The Jamie Dixon offense is predicated on those two things. They'll never recruit the talent of Duke or Louisville. So Jamie Dixon will never just run out a bunch of 5*s who can beat you because they're just better basketball players. Instead, he recruits guys who can take care of the ball, and who are athletic and physical enough to be great offensive rebounders.
In other words, they chuck shots, and then clean up at the rim. Typically, that's enough for a really good team. This is Dixon's 12th season at Pitt, and he's played in 10 NCAA tournaments. But this year is different.
In Dixon's previous 11 seasons, he's featured a top 30 defense eight times. Only once has it been ranked worse than 65th. This year? 226.
This should be a high scoring game, but not in the way that most fans recognize. Pitt grinds the tempo, and they extend them with a bunch of offensive rebounds, so there won't be a ton of possessions. But each team will have difficulty stopping the other, so it will likely be an efficient game.
The Noles need the win to avoid their first losing season in eleven years. But mostly I'd just like to see them win so that Kiel Turpin goes out on a good note.
The game tips at noon from the Tuck, and will be broadcast on ESPN2. Pitt is a 1-point favorite.