As Florida State has suffered through a 3-game losing streak to fall to the wrong side of the bubble, there have been rumors of a fractured clubhouse. Or perhaps it is the freshmen wall. Or maybe it's just that a middle-of-the-pack team dropping 3-straight in the ACC isn't that odd.
Whatever the case, the Noles have four games left in the regular season, and if they want a decent shot at dancing without having to make a deep run in the ACCT, then they need to go at least 3-1.
It starts tomorrow at Virginia Tech (13-13, 5-8). The game is a "blackout" and is already sold out.
Virginia Tech went through a predictable 8-5 out of conference season, with no real quality wins. Then - out of nowhere - they came out of the ACC gates 4-1 which included a win against No. 4 Virginia.
Since then it has been downhill, with the team going 1-7.
It seems that a lot of ACC teams these days are led by a pair of transfers, and Virginia Tech falls into that category. South Florida transfer Zach LeDay leads the team at 15.2 points per game, and is a matchup problem. He's big - 6-7, 235 - but very skilled scoring from all three levels.
Maryland transfer Seth Allen is 2nd in scoring at 13.7, but it comes primarily through volume shooting and his ability to pick up fouls.
Overall, their offense (147th nationally) struggles, and really doesn't do much if they aren't getting a ton of trips to the line. They are 216th in 2-pt%, and 191st in 3-pt%. But they are the 4th best team in the nation at getting free throws. There are seven players in the ACC that draw at least 6 fouls per 40 minutes, and two of them (Allen and LeDay) play for Virginia Tech.
Defensively they are a bit better (92nd), but give up way too many offensive boards.
The FSU gameplan will have to be minimizing dribble penetration, as that so often leads to fouls. Unfortunately, the young perimeter of Florida State hasn't been able to contain many guards this season. But limit the penetration, don't reach, and hope that the refs aren't whistle happy.
Offensively, crashing the boards will be of utmost importance. Virginia Tech mixes and matches and can often end up with small lineups on the floor, and the Noles will need to take advantage.
If the Noles win, they will be in decent shape needing at least a 2-1 finish. With a loss they enter the territory where every game is a must win.
The game tips at 3 PM and will be broadcast on the ACC Network and ESPN3.