If FSU (6-1) is a bubble team come March, the narrative will be that they never played a true road game in out-of-conference play. Well, circle this game.
Florida State travels 870 miles to the Verizon Center, while their opponent - George Washington - can walk the 10 blocks from campus. But it’s a neutral site game.
Regardless, the Colonials (5-3) should be competitive in the A10 and a win here would be a nice tick mark on FSU’s resume. Last season GW beat three FSU opponents (Florida, Hofstra, Valparaiso) in winning the NIT.
The Colonials season has been a bit of roller coaster ride, as their head coach Mike Lonergan was dismissed just prior to the season for his mistreatment of players. Assistant Maurice Joseph is running the team as the interim head coach.
They are led by 6-9 Wake Forest transfer Tyler Cavanaugh, whose career took off after sitting out a season. As a junior, he was 2nd team All A10, and will compete for conference Player of the Year this season. In the early going he’s averaging 18.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Yuta Watanabe - nicknamed ‘The Chosen One’ while in high school in Japan - is their 2nd leading scorer, but is currently out with an injury and not expected to play. That means another transfer in Seton Hall’s Jaren Sina needs to step up. The 6-2 junior had a career high 19 points in Watanabe’s second missed game.
On offense, GW has struggled shooting the ball. But they’ve mitigated this by being an excellent offensive rebounding team, and being one of the best team’s in the nation at getting to the foul line. An advantage to FSU if the refs swallow their whistles.
The Colonials struggle defensively because they don’t force turnovers. They are an excellent rebounding team, however, so the ‘Noles will want to get out and run rather than facing them in half court sets.
George Washington will slow this game down, and look to dominate the boards.
The game tips Sunday at 4 PM from the Verizon Center, and will be broadcast on CBS Sports. Kenpom.com has FSU as 8-point favorites, but there is no Vegas line yet as George Washington is currently playing a game vs South Florida.