FSU Basketball Game Preview: at North Carolina

Jan 10, 2017; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes reacts after an and-1 during the second half against the Duke Blue Devils at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2017; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes reacts after an and-1 during the second half against the Duke Blue Devils at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports /

Here is a preview for FSU Basketball and their trip to Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina Tar Heels.

You would think that after facing three straight ranked teams, including Duke and Virginia, FSU basketball’s schedule would taper out. But no, that’s not the case. In fact, it’s the opposite. The schedule may actually be getting harder (for the next three games, at least).

The Seminoles are currently in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, waiting to face the 11th-ranked Tar Heels. The Heels (15-3, 3-1), are one of the few teams in the conference that can match Duke in pure talent. They may have less future NBA players than the Blue Devils, but Carolina’s five-stars are the kind that stay in school for four years.

And even aside from their talent, the Seminoles historically never do all that well in the Dean Dome anyways. The last time Florida State escaped there with a win was in the 2010 season, behind 19 Chris Singleton points. So yeah, this one won’t be easy.

Let’s recap that Duke beat-down, and preview the big game against the Heels.

Last Time the ‘Noles Took the Court

The Seminoles hosted Duke on Tuesday night, in a highly-anticipated top-10 ACC showdown. After competing for the first 30 minutes, the Blue Devils just got overwhelmed over the final ten. Xavier Rathan-Mayes took over the game at that point, scoring 18 points total in the second half, while also finding his teammates for monster dunks.

Duke were without senior center Amile Jefferson, which would explain their porous paint defense. FSU shot 58 percent from inside the arc, and pretty much got whatever they wanted near the rim.

The final tally was 88-72, Florida State. Grayson Allen was held to nine points, three turnovers, and was berated nonstop by the student section. Though I don’t approve of the specific chants, Allen is pretty much going to get that treatment in every road game he has left. Good thing he claimed he “didn’t care.”

FSU Basketball: Three Keys to Beating the North Carolina Tar Heels

Carolina comes into this game ranked as the sixth best team in the country, with the tenth most efficient offense, and 11th defense. All of that, of course, according to college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy. Florida State, after beating Duke, rose to 15th overall.

The Heels leading scorer this season is former blue chip recruit Justin Jackson. He’s averaging 18 points per game on 46 percent shooting, 40 percent from three. He’s a lanky, perimeter wing, who has greatly improved his skill since getting to college.

Point guard Joel Berry (who’s a Florida kid from Apopka originally), scores 16 a game, to go with four rebounds and five assists. He’s small, but lightning quick, and strong for his size. FSU’s guards will have a hard time slowing him down.

They also have a solid inside presence in Kennedy Meeks, who is averaging 13 and 10 on the year. Though he’s massive, he’s slow-footed too, meaning that FSU’s guards need to do get by him inside and finish at the rim. Meeks doesn’t even average a full block per game.

For the Seminoles to be victorious in Chapel Hill, they’ll need to do three things:

  1. Run.
    • The Tar Heels are a team that likes to run after every basket. They’re 21st in the country in possessions per game, and average a full two more than FSU.
    • So, in a game that the opponent won’t be looking to slow the Seminoles down, they need to respond by running with them. They’re certainly athletic (and deep) enough to keep up.
  2. Stop dribble penetration.
    • Certainly easier said than done. The Heels have two guards in Berry and Kenny Britt who have similar elite quickness (though Britt isn’t quite as strong).
    • XRM, Trent Forrest and CJ Walker need to do their best in slowing them down, and not letting them get inside, where they love to either finish or dump it off for easy buckets.
  3. Get Dwayne Bacon going again.
    • I haven’t heard a thing about this supposed knee injury that Bacon suffered in warmups before Duke. But without question, he didn’t look himself that night.
    • He had seven turnovers, and was looking to pass way more often than I’m used to seeing from him. If he’s healthy, and that was just a random poor performance, the Seminoles may need him to have a game reminiscent of the one he had at Virginia to have a chance.

Point Spread/How to Watch?

The Seminoles face their worst odds of the season against the Tar Heels. The point spread is -7.5 in UNC’s favor (according to Odds Shark). That’s a line that probably has more to do with history than it has to do with the current form of both teams. The Heels are really talented, sure, but on top of that, they’re even harder to beat in Chapel Hill. They haven’t lost their yet this season. That, plus the fact that FSU hasn’t won there in almost seven years, is why the line is so big.

You can watch Florida State – North Carolina on ESPN. The game tips off at 2 PM, so be sure not to be late. I guarantee it’ll be an exciting, up-and-down contest. Go ‘Noles!