Florida State began its 2018-2019 conference schedule against the Virginia Cavaliers— now the Seminoles will try to keep it from ending against the ’Hoos as well. The No. 12 Seminoles and the No. 2 Cavs, the 5-seed and 1-seed in the ACC Tournament, respectively, will meet at 7 pm with a trip to the tourney final on the line. The game will be broadcast on ESPN, and UVA has opened as an 8.5-point favorite.
Virginia is the defending ACC champ and is currently the only team in the country projected as a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament by all 114 forecasts consulted by Bracket Matrix. They’re No. 1 per KenPom, No. 1 in the NCAA’s Net Rankings, and No. 2 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. They’re 29-2 overall, 16-2 in the ACC, and own the longest active winning streak in the conference, at nine straight. That’s all.
Everyone knows that the Cavaliers are built around a fantastic defense— but their offense is equally efficient, as both units rank No. 2 in the country. The reason you don’t hear more about UVA’s offense is because they’re the slowest team in the nation (353 out of 353 in adjusted tempo), so they don’t score a ton of points, because they play fewer possessions. But they also don’t turn the ball over, they’re unselfish, and they shoot it well, thus dictating a style at which they excel. The ’Hoos are No. 5, nationally, in assist-to-tuover ratio and No. 3 in the country from long-range, making threes at a 41.4% clip.
Against Virginia’s Pack-Line defense, FSU will need to keep up the long-range accuracy it achieved against Virginia Tech, when the ’Noles sunk 12-21 (39%), because the ’Hoos place a priority on taking away the paint. And they do it without drawing whistles, as only Dayton has been called for fewer fouls this season. They’re led by All-ACC first-teamer De’Andre Hunter, who was also named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, and fellow first-team selection Kyle Guy, as well as second-team pick Ty Jerome. The Cavaliers’ opponent have an adjusted FG percentage of 43% this season. Only Texas Tech and VCU boast better.
UVA is striving to atone for last postseason, when they became the first 1-seed ever to lose to a 16-seed. Florida State, meanwhile, looks to have locked up at least a 4-seed; let’s see if the Seminoles can come out loose against a well-favored Cavs squad everyone expects to win. The victor of this game gets either Duke or North Carolina for the conference title.