FSU basketball fans were secretly hoping for that 10/11-seed sweet spot, sandwiched between the 8/9 game and the first four. Instead, the ’Noles were selected as the 9-seed, and must face a Missouri team welcoming back a transcendent talent in Michael Porter Jr.
Porter’s return couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as the suspension of 6-7 Jordan Barnett has left a void on the wing.
Many basketball fans see that Porter Jr. is 6-10 and think Missouri is bringing back another post presence. But that’s not his game. He’s a wing in the mold of Jonathan Isaac.
He was the No. 2 overall recruit in last year’s class and has only played two games this season: their first and last. He looked rusty on return from injury, but now they get another week to work out the kinks.
It’s likely that Porter Jr. will start in Barnett’s place. At 6-10, he’s a huge matchup problem on the perimeter. He can shoot. He runs the floor. In short, he looks like the making of an NBA star.
The knock from high school is that he played small around the rim, and - like most high school players - he didn’t defend.
The problem for FSU is that Porter Jr. is only one of Mizzou’s over-sized 5* recruits. His younger brother - Jontay Porter - is the bigger of the two at 6-11, 240. And like his older brother, Jontay can shoot. He’s made 38% of his 3s for the year, and is coming on strong having made 10-14 in the past three games. While he’s more likely than his big brother to bang down low, 47% of his shot attempts have been 3s.
These two will get mixed in with another pair of long players: Jeremiah Tilmon - a 6-10 freshman who was a top-50 recruit, and 6-10 sophomore Reed Nikko. Tilmon is a big who runs the floor very well, is active around the basket, and plays with tremendous energy. Nikko is more of a role player, but is big and strong and can hold down the post.
Those four create matchup problems for FSU. The Seminoles don’t want Christ Koumadje or Ike Obiagu having to defend 3-point shoooters, which could limit their time.
Florida State also likes to switch all shooter-to-shooter ball screens, which could create obvious matchup problems with smaller guards switching onto either of the Porter brothers.
There’s potential for Florida State to mix in some zone, which they haven’t done much this season. Another option is that the Seminoles go “small” in stretches to try and take away the three.
Offensively, the ’Noles will try to draw the Tigers’ bigger players to the perimeter and make a living playing downhill.