For a contest between the ACC’s top two squads, the Wahoos will travel down to Tallahassee to tip off against Florida State in the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center where the Seminoles have won 22-straight ACC games (with the last loss coming to Zion Williamson and Duke in 2019). Undoubtedly UVA’s fiercest competition in the ACC, Florida State poses a real threat to extend their home winning streak and attempt to topple the ‘Hoos at the top of the conference standings.
What FSU has done this season
While they’ve fallen victim to a number of their own COVID-19 caused cancellations, the Seminoles have nabbed a few nice wins this season. With wins over Louisville, Florida, Indiana, Clemson, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech, and their only losses coming to UCF early in the season, to Clemson back in December, and to the same Georgia Tech squad they previously beat, they’re safely in the NCAA Tournament.
Breaking down FSU
Per usual, the Seminoles boast a deep rotation of lengthy, athletic players. With nobody on the team averaging 30 minutes per game, Leonard Hamilton can roll out a variety of different lineups that will all look to disrupt defensively.
Led by senior scorer MJ Walker who averages 13.7 points per game, the FSU offense is balanced as well with six players scoring more than seven points per contest. Alongside Walker, star freshman Scottie Barnes may be the Seminoles’ most dangerous player as a 6’9” wing who plays as the point guard a great deal. In fact, Barnes leads the team in assists with an average of 4.2 per game. Additionally, the 6’8”, 260-pound bruiser Raiquan Gray is yet another threat who scores 11.1 PPG and will be a mismatch for whoever (likely Sam Hauser) guards him tonight as he’s a crafty offensive player who knows how to use his size.
Complementing those three will be 6’8” wing Anthony Polite who shoots a deadly 51.4% from behind the arc. Notably, FSU’s starting center, Balsa Koprivica, missed Saturday’s contest with Wake Forest after he turned his ankle in shootaround. His status is still unknown as of now, but whether he plays or not will have a significant impact on this game. At a mobile 7’1”, 240-pounds, Koprivica poses a threat on both ends of the floor with a solid post presence and as a pesky offensive rebounder while also as a shot blocker who moves his feet well defensively.
As a squad, Florida State shoots the ball at a 38.7% clip from deep. They don’t rely on the three-ball though as they’re more prone to attacking the paint to score and then, if need be, looking to find shooters on the perimeter.
UVA will win if:
The ‘Hoos can be more fluid offensively than they have been on late and look for more playmaking from the guards without some of the turnovers. Defensively, they’ll need to prevent the Seminoles’ from overpowering them or causing any bad foul trouble.
FSU will win if:
The ‘Noles can force the Virginia guards to beat them while exploiting mismatches with guys like Barnes, Gray, and maybe even Walker considering comparative lack of size in the Wahoo backcourt.
Score prediction: FSU 63 – UVA 59
UVA’s offense hasn’t been great of late as they’ve heavily relied on making outside shots to compensate for some otherwise stagnant offense. Look for the FSU defense to give the UVA guards fits while utilizing their own size to clamp down on the Wahoo frontcourt. On the other end, there are two many favorable matchups for the Seminoles. It’ll be an ugly and close, but I expect FSU to defend its home court.
(Image – Melina Myers – USA TODAY Sports)