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No. 23 FSU basketball hosts Syracuse

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A battle of 1-3 ACC teams

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We all knew that the opening stretch of ACC play was going to be brutal. But Florida State nearly made it through 2-2 if not for a second half loss of focus vs Louisville. Instead, they’re 1-3. So now the ‘Noles are up against it, needed to find nine wins in 14 games to have a great shot at the NCAA Tournament.

Syracuse (12-5, 1-3) travels to Tallahassee even more on the ropes, clinging to just a 30% chance of dancing according to Team Rankings. They picked up one resume win in out-of-conference play (at home, vs Maryland), but lost to St. Bonaventure at home and have begun conference play 1-3, including a home loss to a Notre Dame team missing their two best players.

The Orange have really struggled on offense. They’re 308th in 3pt%. They’re 231st in 2pt%. They mitigate for an inability to shoot by getting to the line (49th), and being nearly the best offensive rebounding team in the nation (3rd).

Their offense is essentially a 3-man game. They’re the only players averaging more than six points a contest.

Sophomore Tyus Battle has been in a shooting slump from deep (32%), but the 6-6 wing can score on the interior and get to the line. He leads the team with 19.1 ppg, and takes 30% of the shots when he’s on the floor.

The point guard duties go to 6-5 junior Frank Howard, who scores 15.6 per game. He’s steadily become an outside threat during his career. From deep, he shot 11% as a freshman, 32% as a sophomore, and is now up to 38% as a junior. He has the highest assist rate in the ACC, but also the 3rd worst turnover %.

Canadian Oshae Brissett scores 15.2 per game. The 6-8 freshman is trying to be a stretch four (31% of his shots are 3s), but he’s only making 29% from deep. He’s a powerful, athletic, player who is at his best attacking the rim.

FSU should be able to limit their offense. The trouble is that they are one of the slowest teams in the nation, and if they start making a living on the offensive glass, then they’ll really limit how many possessions this game will have. Fewer possessions always favors the underdog.

Defensively, this is yet another elite defense FSU will face. This will be the fourth straight team with a national top-15 defense. Syracuse’s zone slows the game down, is tough to shoot over, and the Orange block more shots than any other team in the nation.

The game tips at 2 PM from the Tuck, and will be broadcast regionally. FSU is a 6-point favorite.

That line assumes that Terance Mann will play. Mann has been hampered by a head injury suffered while not being fouled late against Louisville.