Florida State basketball (14-5, 2-4) returns to the hardwood tonight, as the Seminoles will play an ACC rematch for the first time this season, at Miami (9-9, 1-5). Earlier in January, the ’Noles defended their home court with a 68-62 win over the Hurricanes in Tallahassee, and the ’Canes will now try to return the favor in Coral Gables. The game will get started at 6 pm and be broadcast on ESPNU; FSU opened as a three-point favorite.
The Seminoles are currently No. 30 in KenPom’s rankings, while Miami is No. 93. The ’Noles are a better team at both ends of the floor, sporting a top-40 offense (38th) and defense (33rd), while those units for the Hurricanes rank 65th and 138th. But the real distinguishing factor between these teams is depth. The ’Canes are a shallow roster, and in that regard, Florida State is rather unlucky to have both off their games against Miami come so early in the conference schedule, before the real grind of the ACC has set in.
The Hurricanes have eight players who average double-digit minutes per game played— and nobody on the rest of the roster averages more than two. Meanwhile, FSU goes 10-deep with players averaging double-digit minutes, and Devin Vassell, at 9.1, just misses that mark, which would bring this to 11. For Miami to stay in games, they need help from officiating; and that’s exactly what they got in Tallahassee earlier this month.
In that game, Florida State was unable to run the legs off the ’Canes because the latter found peculiarly favorable road whistles, shooting 15 of the game’s first 20 free throws. The fouls evened out some as the game wore on, but the initial benefit of the doubt kept the Hurricanes close: they wound up making 20 field goals to 18 free throws.
Then again, Miami getting calls is not just something that the Seminoles have experienced this season. The Hurricanes have been called for fewer fouls (257) than any other ACC team. Where does Florida State find itself on the list? Only NC State has been whistled for more personal fouls in the conference, with 405 to FSU’s 384. But the Wolfpack have also played 20 games, to the Seminoles’ 19.
Now typically this season, Miami has been able to hang with its opposition for about 30 minutes or so before the Hurricanes wear down. So it’ll be important for FSU to hang around until the 10-minute mark or so, come what may from the ’Canes or the refs, and give themselves a shot to grab their first conference road win of the year down the stretch.
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