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Preview: Seminoles To Host Hoyas In NIT

Florida State will host Georgetown in a second-round NIT game tonight at the Tucker Center in Tallahassee. The top-seeded ‘Noles advanced in the 32-team tourney after a 58-53 victory over the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles last Tuesday. Georgetown made the trip south thanks to their 77-65 victory over West Virginia.

So what should you expect? Well, Georgetown runs a Princeton-style offense, which essentially means they’ll often milk the shot clock while cutting away from the ball in hopes of getting a high-percentage shot. This typically results in fewer possessions for each team in a rather slowed-down, low-scoring game. I spoke with FSU’s leading scorer, Aaron Thomas, about what this means for the Seminoles offensively: “We just have to, you know, limit our turnovers: be smart and make smart choices. I think as long as we take care of the ball, we’ll be able to get the shots we want as long as we’re being patient.” Turnovers are always an issue for the ‘Noles, as they average 15.9 per game. Fewer possessions makes each possession that much more valuable, so Thomas’ points about ball security will prove pivotal tonight.

Rebounding will also be critical. Florida State often struggled on the boards this year, particularly in securing defensive rebounds, which allowed their opponents second, third, and even fourth shots. They faired better on the glass than the Hoyas, though, and it’s important that that continues this evening. Considering how much clock Georgetown likes to kill, it is imperative that the Seminoles block-out well tonight– or they could face multi-minute spells in which the Hoyas are making them play defense to wear them down.

Regarding conditioning, it should be interesting to see the energy levels in this one, as both teams have been off since the 18th. That’s an irregularly long stretch for tournament time. I asked Coach Leonard Hamilton if this was a blessing or a curse, to which he replied: “With the number of minutes that our guys have been playing, having a break where, you know, we could take a little time off is tremendous. Plus with the fact that we had two guys hurt, it’ll give them a chance to heal up a little bit.” The rest for second-leading scorer Ian Miller should be key for the Seminoles’ chances tonight, as he adds a long-range threat that can help stretch the Georgetown defense.

The ‘Noles are 6-0 at home against non-conference opponents this season, and they’ll look to improve on that when the game tips off at 7 pm tonight.  Awaiting the winner of tonight’s game is Louisiana Tech, the team that eliminated FSU from the NIT last year.

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