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No. 23 FSU basketball hosts Louisville

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A battle between old Metro Conference foes

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville (11-4, 1-1) program is a bit of a mess. They’ve gone from lofty preseason expectations, to struggling to map out a path to even making the NCAA Tournament. And the reason is departed head coach Rick Pitino, who after a string of mini scandals, had his program swept up in the recent FBI investigation involving recruits, which cost him his job.

So it’s been up to assistant coach David Padgett to guide a team Rick Pitino had referred to as his “most athletic” in his years with the Cardinals.

Even without 5* freshman Bruce Bowen (ruled ineligible as part of the investigation), this is a deep and talented Louisville team, featuring nine blue chips. Four of five starters were top-50 recruits.

Junior Deng Adel leads the team, scoring 15.1 per game. The lanky 6-7 Australian has never developed into a knock down shooter (31% from deep this year), but he’s solid inside the arc and makes his free throws.

Quentin Snider, a 6-2 senior, has seen his 3-pt% drop for three straight years, but he’s still dangerous. Almost half his attempts are 3s and he’s scoring 12.1 per game.

Ray Spalding is a huge matchup problem. The junior is 6-10 with good athleticism, and is the team’s most popular player on the tail end of alley oops. He’s scoring 11.1 per game, and is the team’s best rebounder with 9.5 per game.

VJ King, a 5* recruit, isn’t having the breakout sophomore season many expected, and he’s only been in double figures five times.

Senior Anas Mahmoud is a steady, shot-blocking, 7-footer.

Like most Louisville teams, this one thrives on defense. They aren’t elite at turning teams over the way we’ve come to expect, but their pressure defense gives up very few good looks, and their defense is 8th best nationally in eFG%. They are weak on the defensive glass, which is an area where Florida State will need to excel. Against Miami, FSU was able to grab 44% of their own misses.

Offensively, the Cardinals look to play fast and get to the rim. They’re not a great shooting team (and don’t take a ton of 3s) but they make up for it by taking care of the ball and crashing the glass.

The game tips at 9 PM from the Tuck and will be broadcast on regional sports networks. FSU is a 5.5 point favorite.