By the time FSU (24-7) takes the floor in Brooklyn, nine of 15 ACC basketball teams will have been eliminated. The ‘Noles will face Virginia Tech (22-9) in the quarterfinals after the Hokies beat Wake Forest 99-90 in the second round.
Florida State’s hope is that there will be an advantage since Virginia Tech is playing on back-to-back days, and that they’re a team which relies on a 7-man rotation. But the Hokies are a small team - they don’t have any bigs to wear down, so fatigue probably won’t be much of an issue. VT has played the last seven games with just seven guys, so they’re used to playing major minutes.
Florida State won the first matchup in Tallahassee 93-78 when VT was without their star Seth Allen. FSU doesn’t really have anyone who can contain Allen off the dribble, and he’s a 46% 3-pt shooter. In his last four games vs Florida State, he’s averaged 23.3 points and made 15-25 3s (60%).
But while Allen is back, the Hokies are now missing their undersized power forward in Chris Clarke, who was the team’s best rebounder. He was injured in February.
That puts more pressure on 6-7 senior Zach LeDay, who responded in their ACCT opener with 15 boards (to go along with 31 points).
Without Clarke, their main six guys run 6-7 (LeDay), 6-6 (Ty Outlaw), 6-5 (Justin Bibbs), 6-5 (Ahmed Hill), 6-1 (Justin Robinson), and 6-1 (Allen).
Against Wake they started 6-10 Khadim Sy to jump center, but he only played six minutes.
It will be an interesting chess match too see how FSU responds as the Hokies spread the floor and look to attack the gaps with their small lineup. Both teams should find a lot of success on offense, and if either defense can manage consistent stops then they should win the game.
The Hokies are the 7th best 3-point shooting team in the country. They led the ACC in 2-pt%, in 3-pt%, and were 2nd at getting to the line. It will be critical for FSU to limit them to one shot attempt on offense, to force some turnovers, and then get out in transition.
The game tips at 7 PM from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, and will be broadcast on ESPN.