Unless you’re one of the blue bloods, the NCAA Tournament comes to an end not long after it begins. By the time Florida State tips, 32 of 68 teams will have been sent packing. In the ACC, Miami of Florida, NC State, and Virginia Tech are already in that group.
The ‘Noles get the West Regional 8/9 game, and must face Missouri. Leading up to this game, Tomahawk Nation has provided an overview of the Tigers, and a look at how their length will give FSU all sorts of problems. In a “this is March” moment, even Bud and Ingram got in on the fun discussing how on-point Matt Minnick’s season summary was leading into the Missouri game.
One thing that hasn’t been discussed is what FSU needs to do in order to win this game.
First, this thing needs to be hectic. Missouri can’t take care of the ball. They’re 311th in turnover%. Plus, despite having the No. 2 recruit in the nation back in Michael Porter Jr., they’re short handed. From an already depleted roster, one guard suffered a knee injury. Another was arrested for DWI. That leaves just eight scholarship players.
FSU needs to pressure their ball handlers, force live ball turnovers, and score in transition. The trade off is that when Missouri breaks the pressure, they will likely get plenty of open looks from three, which is where they thrive. It’s a risky strategy, but Florida State needs to control tempo. And they control tempo by making this a hectic, scrambling affair.
Missouri wants this to be a slow, grinding, rock fight. If the style is fun to watch, it’s likely that the Seminoles are in control of the pace.
Second, in half court sets, Florida State needs to play wide. Missouri will go stretches where they have three guys on the floor who are 6-10 or bigger, and FSU makes them pay by spreading out the defense and attacking off the dribble. The ‘Noles need to force the interior defenders to decide between helping on drives and sticking with Christ Koumadje or Ike Obiagu. I’d expect plenty of weak side alley oops in this one.
Finally, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, the Seminoles need to knock down 3s at a decent clip. You can win the battle of X’s and O’s. You can leave it all on the floor. But if you don’t knock down shots, you don’t win. The Seminoles have attempted the 2nd most 3s in the Leonard Hamilton era. With a good shooting night, there’s a solid chance the season will continue.
The game is scheduled to tip at 9:50 from Nashville, and will be broadcast on TBS. Missouri opened as a 1-point favorite, but it has since swung to the other side, with the ‘Noles favored by 2-points.