FSU basketball hosts one of the most explosive players in the country – Dennis Smith Jr. – and the NC State Wolfpack in another ACC battle.
FSU basketball is off to one of the best starts in school history. At 20-4 (8-3 in conference play) the Seminoles are in thick of the running for the ACC regular season title. Now, they play host to one of the best freshmen in college basketball. Dennis Smith Jr. will be a high NBA draft pick in June. He’s currently lighting up the ACC on a consistent basis, even though his NC State Wolfpack team is struggling. Will FSU be able to slow him down?
Florida State is coming off back-to-back impressive wins. First, they ended a two-game losing skid by trouncing the Miami Hurricanes in Coral Gables. Then, they followed that up with a complete demolition of the Clemson Tigers. (Does this mean we all feel better about how that football game ended between the two schools? No? Got it.)
Now, it’s all about keeping the momentum going. The Wolfpack have a superstar in Smith, but as a whole, are not a very good team this season. The ‘Noles should crush them, and do so with ease. Let’s get to it. We preview Florida State and NC State.
The Last Time the ‘Noles Took the Court
The Seminoles hosted Clemson in a midday ACC bout on Sunday. The 12:30 PM tip-off time made the game have a sleepy feel to it. At least to the fans, it did. And probably to the Tigers, as well.
FSU, on the other hand, was razor sharp all game long. They shot 66 percent from the floor, and 57 percent from three. Even their free-throw shooting improved. They went 10-of-12 from the foul line. Dwayne Bacon was spectacular. The sophomore scored 29 points on 14 shot attempts, made 6 three-pointers and pulled down three rebounds.
Defensively, the Seminoles were even better. They held the Tigers to 38 percent shooting. Not to mention that they forced more turnovers (22), than they allowed field goals made (21). Up and down, just an incredible showing from FSU, in what was a 109-61 victory. It was a Final Four type of performance.
The first thing that has to be mentioned about the Wolfpack, even before their KenPom rating or anything else, is Smith Jr. The freshman was one of the best recruits in America, but unfortunately suffered a torn ACL as a senior in high school. Many wondered if he would lose the athleticism that makes him so special. It turns out, he didn’t.
Smith Jr. is averaging 19.2 points per game, to go with 4.6 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.2 steals. He’s shooting 46 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three. He’s explosive, can shoot well enough to keep you honest, and loves to set up his teammates. Smith Jr. is simply the complete package. But even despite his superb play, NC State is having one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Florida State Seminoles Basketball
The Pack are 14-10 on the season, 3-8 in ACC play. They have lost eight of their last 11 games. One of the primary reasons for their struggles is their inability (or refusal?) to play defense. KenPom has them pegged as the 214th team in the country in defensive efficiency. That’s worse than the likes of Rutgers, Buffalo, and Townson. (KenPom adjusts for strength of schedule, so no, you can’t blame that on the conference NC State plays in.)
Their offense isn’t much to write home about either. They rank 36th in the country in offensive efficiency, and that number has trended down recently.
One area where FSU can take advantage is in the pace that the Wolfpack play. They average more possessions per game than the Seminoles. Florida State certainly has the athletes and the depth to play an up-and-down style, so that will probably help them break this game open.
I’m calling it now: Look for the home team to break 100 points for the second game in a row.
Point Spread/How to Watch
FSU basketball is a -13.5 point favorite according to Odds Shark. Considering the trajectories that the two teams have taken over the past week, the Seminoles being favored by that much makes sense.
To watch this game, all you have to do is tune into ESPN2 at 7 PM. Nothing left to say but: Go ‘Noles!