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FSU Basketball: Top 3 toughest matchups of 2021-22 season

Florida State finds itself with a challenging schedule in 2022

Florida State basketball is around the corner.

The Seminoles are ranked No. 20 in the preseason AP poll, picked to finish second in the ACC after losing key starters to the NBA Draft but reloading with some fresh faces.

Ahead of the season opener, we’re taking a look at the Seminoles' schedule and breaking down what should be the top three toughest opponents they face this season.

1. Florida State Seminoles at Purdue Boilermakers, Away, November 30th

FSU will head to Indiana on November 30th to face the Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This should be the Seminoles’ first big test as the Boilermakers clock in as the No.7 team in the NCAA’s preseason AP Top 25.

Purdue should be known as one of the more established groups in the nation, bringing back key veterans and incredible scoring ability. Senior Trevion Williams had a phenomenal season last year averaging a career-high 15.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Williams recorded 11 double-doubles on the season and was nominated to the First-Team All Big Ten. His accomplice is 7’4 center Zach Edey appeared in all 28 games for the Boilermakers, averaging 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds while delivering 30 blocked shot attempts.

Aside from the problems the Seminoles will have to face in the painted area, Purdue welcomes back some exceptional guard play in sophomores Jaden Ivey and Brandon Newman. Ivey should be considered a breakout candidate as one of the nation's top pure scorers who was recently added to the Jerry West Award watch list for the best shooting guard in the country. The second-year player averaged 11.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. He scored in double-figures in 14 of 23 contests and finished the season with a 26 point performance against North Texas in the round of 32. Point guard Brandon Newman showed last season that he is one of the top shooters in the Big Ten, finishing the season with a 37.9 three-point percentage and 93.8 free throw percentage.

The Boilermakers also added a pair of talented forwards in freshmen Trey Kaufman-Renn and Caleb Furst. Both of which were ranked as top 40 players in the 2021 high school class. They should see immediate playing time as Purdue has been searching for stronger two-way athletes in the small forward and power forward positions.

The Seminoles are still known as the tallest team in the country and most likely a top 15 defensive squad so this should likely be another yet another game between the two teams that goes down to the wire. Head coach Leonard Hamilton and the ’Noles have never lost to Purdue, but this’ll be their first time playing at Mackey Arena.

In 2018 the Seminoles won 73-72 after a late bucket from Trent Forest and in 2019 they took a 63-60 overtime win.

Purdue will likely play inside-out to start the game, as they try to establish a physical presence in the paint and eventually get their guards involved later in the matchup. Although Jaden Ivey can score in many ways, FSU has some of the best perimeter defenders in college basketball so the game will fall on the lap of seasoned veteran Trevion Williams and how well he’ll be able to dominate the paint so shooting lanes start will start to open.

This matchup will take place on November 30th, 2021 at Purdue. Tune into ESPN to watch the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

2. Florida State Seminoles at Duke Blue Devils, Away, February 19th

Florida State travels to Durham, North Carolina on February 19th for their final matchup against Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski. He is now entering his 42nd season and will conclude the year after the NCAA tournament where he’ll be retiring and saying a final goodbye to Duke University.

FSU hasn’t beat the Blue Devils on the road since January 21st, 2012, holding an overall 10-39 record against them. The Cameron Crazies have been welcomed back into Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time in two years, giving Duke possibly the best home-court advantage in the country.

The Blue Devils coaching staff once again hauled yet another top recruiting class in the nation, finishing their 2021 rating with the No.1 class in the ACC and the No.5 class in the NCAA. The second-best prospect in the class of 2021, Paolo Banchero will take the place of 2021 draft pick Jalen Johnson in the starting lineup. Banchero has been regarded as one of the best recruits in recent memory, having the ability to change the game on both sides of the floor at any moment. He averaged 22.6 points, 11 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in his final season at O’dea High School while earning the MaxPreps Junior Player of the Year.

Veterans Joey Baker and Wendell Moore Jr. will likely be the key leaders for the Blue Devils this season with a lineup of five freshmen and three sophomores. Both forwards shouldn’t be a huge problem for the Seminoles as Duke will move their plays through sophomore guard Jeremy Roach and freshman Banchero.

The Seminoles x-factor will be how they can exploit Duke’s young lineup into early turnovers with Anthony Polite and Caleb Mills suffocating perimeter defense that’ll start at full court on made baskets. If the ’Noles can feed off of this crowd's energy to pressure the Blue Devils they can force them to get into foul trouble and pack the paint, leaving space for Mills and Mathew Cleveland to work their magic on the offensive end.

3. Florida State Seminoles at Syracuse Orange, Away, January 15th

The ’Noles are set to play the Syracuse Orange on January 15th after a two-game home stretch against conference opponents.

Syracuse brings back key scorers in Buddy Boheim and Joseph Girad III that have the ability to light up any defense from any range. Boheim was the team's go-to scorer, averaging 17.8 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Girad III will be the Orange’s floor general and should have Anthony Polite glued on him for 40 minutes.

The matchup should be a defensive showdown with FSU’s one-two-two press off of scoring possessions and Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone. Head coach Jim Boheim needs to cement his defenders on the baseline and make sure his forwards are ready to face a heavy-cutting team in the Seminoles. The goal will be for the Seminoles to play through the elbow with someone like Malik Osbourne that can find the cutter on the baseline, hit the 15-foot jump shot or penetrate the basket and find the open man on the perimeter.

Forwards Cam’Ron Fletcher, Mathew Cleveland and Wyatt Wilkes should see plenty of minutes in this matchup as they’ll have the ability to handle the ball at the top of the key as well as break down the zone through the middle. If the ’Noles can break down the 2-3 early and trap the perimeter handoffs they should find themselves with a lead. The biggest concern will be the pressure they face to obtain offensive rebounds as well as making sure they play beyond the arc and go over screen plays.

FSU has won four of the last five matchups, dating back to a home loss in 2016. Most of those games have ended in a tight window so the Seminoles will need to attack the basket and pressure Syracuse’s guards early if they want any sort of cushion.


Other primetime matchups may include:

Florida State Seminoles at Florida Gators, Away, November 14th

Florida State Seminoles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Away, January 4th

Louisville Cardinals at Florida State Seminoles, Home, January 8th

Duke Blue Devils at Florida State Seminoles, Home, January 18th

Florida State Seminoles at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Away, January 26th

Florida State Seminoles at North Carolina Tar Heels, Away, February 12th

Florida State Seminoles at Virginia Cavaliers, Away, February 26th