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Welcome to ACC Play

Florida State Seminoles

Virginia dives headfirst into ACC play with the highly ranked Florida State Seminoles arriving in town. This has been a tightly contested series in recent years, and FSU has a veteran lineup ready to get payback for UVA's narrow win in Tallahassee last season.

Game Details:

Date/Time:Saturday, January 5th, 3:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:ESPN2

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:UVA -10.5, O/U 130, equates to a 70-60 UVA win
TAPE:Ranks FSU #44, Predicts a 72-57 UVA win, 92% confidence
KenPom:Ranks FSU #17, Predicts a 70-61 UVA win, 80% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#3 Trent Forrest, 6'4" 210, JR
29.3 mpg, 10.7 ppg, 3.6 apg, .188 3P%
SG#5 PJ Savoy, 6'4" 210, SR
21.2 mpg, 7.5 ppg, 0.8 apg, .308 3P%
SF#14 Terance Mann, 6'7" 215, SR
31.0 mpg, 13.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, .558 FG%
PF#0 Phil Cofer, 6'8" 230, SR
17.0 mpg, 7.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, .389 FG%
C#21 Christ Koumadje, 7'4" 268, SR
17.2 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, .592 FG%
Key Reserves
PG#11 David Nichols, 6'1" 185, SR
18.9 mpg, 7.8 ppg, 1.3 apg, .421 3P%
G/F#23 M.J. Walker, 6'5" 213, SO
26.6 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 1.6 apg, .425 3P%
G/F#13 Anthony Polite, 6'6" 215, FR
15.2 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 1.1 apg, .206 3P%
C#25 Mfiondu Kabengele, 6'10" 250, SO
18.1 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, .495 FG%

 

The ABC's of Florida State:

A) They look to play off the bounce. This is not a team that wants to shoot their way to a win (34.2% as a team, 177th nationally). They're also not looking to create shots with ball movement (their assist-to-FGM ratio ranks 320th nationally, meaning they're playing a ton of iso-ball). This makes sense because they're a team of wings, not guards. Only grad transfer David Nichols is a pass-first type. The rest of their 1-4's (Forrest, Savoy, Mann, Cofer, Walker, and Polite) are downhill wings, with only Walker and Mann from that group being credible threats from deep.

B) They're deep and veteran. No one-and-done hopefuls on this team. FSU's core rotation features four seniors, two juniors, and two sophomores, all of whom are averaging over 7 points a game. That's incredible experience and depth, and they're most all blue-collar players who have valued team over individual stats. This team may miss the 5-star types of years past (XRM, Bacon, Isaac), but the chemistry is better for it.

C) They're just a little banged up. UVA may have caught FSU at a good time, as the Noles are a little nicked at the moment. G MJ Walker has effectively missed the last two games with a knee injury and is questionable for this game. Veteran PF Phil Cofer is still shaking off the rust after missing most of the first 11 games with a foot injury. And reports that Mann suffered a bruised heel in the 2nd half of their most recent win over Winthtrop, though he said he'll play vs Virginia. Keep an eye on possible reduced effectiveness by this trio.

 

Their Season To Date

FSU is 12-1 on the season, with good wins over Florida (home, by 21), LSU (neutral, in OT), and Purdue (home, by 1). Their lone loss is to Villanova (neutral, by 6). They have not played a KenPom Top 50 team since Nov 28th. Most recently they beat Winthrop 87-76 this past Tuesday.

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Keep them off the glass. That athleticism and lane play means FSU will have a number of long forwards crashing the offensive glass with every shot they put up. FSU has had double digit O-Rebounds 8 times so far this year, including 19 against LSU. The biggest threats are the 7'4" Koumadje (2.5 OReb per game), 6'9" Kabengele (1.8 per game), and Mann (an absurd 2.9 OReb a night from the wing). Virginia's D-Reb is good so far (74.8%, 57th nationally), but not quite to Tony's usual levels, where he hasn't had a team ranked out of the Top 50 defensive rebounding since 2007 at Wazzu (we peaked in 2014 as the 4th best D-Reb team in the country). Bodying up FSU's wings on shot attempts has to be a strategic focus area going into this game.

2) Keep them off the FT line. Another component of FSU's downhill style is their relative success getting to the FT line. Virginia's had success in the non-conference preventing opponents FT trips (ranking 48th nationally in defensive FT rate), but we have yet to see an opponent this adept at drawing fouls. FSU's offense ranks a respectable 81st in FT rate, but UVA hasn't faced a team that ranks in the Top 100 of FT rate since GW on Veteran's Day, and the Colonials shot a fair 23 FTAs. Virginia can't let the whistle keep FSU's offense in the game.

3) Prevent turnovers. FSU's highly ranked defense (23rd per KenPom) is almost entirely predicated on their turnover generation, ranking 15th in TO% and 27th in Steal Rate. Virginia had some trouble against Marshall's pressure defense last week, committing 16 TOs (13 by the main rotation, and 3 by scout teamers in garbage time). Ty Jerome had 5, and Kihei Clark had 4, his cast possibly bothering him. Whatever was troubling them against Marshall better be tightened up against FSU, who puts length and athleticism on every corner of the floor.

 

 

Predictions:

This has been a tight series of late, with FSU winning both in 2016 (by 7) and 2017 (by 2) before falling last year (by 4). The 'Noles' length, athleticism, and physicality can challenge UVA in a way few other ACC rosters can, and this will likely be the most physically challenging opponent we'll see this year other than Duke.

FSU faced a KenPom top 20 defense in St Louis just a couple weeks ago and put up a respectable 81 points on 73 possessions, overcoming 20 TOs committed to score effectively from all over the floor, and similarly ran it up on Florida's Top 10 D to start the season, so we shouldn't assume that seeing our defense is going to shock them. They'll arrive up for the challenge, as FSU is known as a team that tends to play up to (or sometimes down to) the level of their opponent.

This will be a game where Tony looks to control the pace and turn it into a grinder with the game turning on mistakes and playmaking. I think the Hoos take this one for the second year in a row, but like last year, it's uglier and tighter than any Hoos would like. Look for the Hoos to utilize their length defensively with 2-5's of Jerome, Hunter, Key, Diakite, and Salt in some mix for most of the game, and for Tony to get the turnovers under control after the teachable moment of the Marshall game.

Hoos Win 66-63