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ACC Tournament Preview: FSU Basketball vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Seminoles take the court in the ACC Tournament in what could be their final game of the season.

Florida State and Virginia Tech meet for the third time this season, looking to break a tied series, in their opening round of the ACC Tournament. This is the second time in the last three years Florida State has played in the 8/9 matchup of the ACC Tournament, as they lost to Syracuse badly in 2022. They're hoping for a better result this time.

FSU is 2-1 in neutral site games this year, beating Colorado and UNLV in the Sunshine Slam Classic but losing to South Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic. Virginia Tech is 2-2, picking up impressive wins over Iowa State and Boise State before losing to Florida Atlantic in the ESPN Events Invitational and losing to South Carolina in the Hall of Fame series in Charlotte. It should also be noted that Virginia Tech won the ACC Tournament just two seasons ago, so they know how to get it done. 

This game will be at noon on ESPN, live from the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. 

Virginia Tech Hokies Review (18-13 Overall, 10-10 ACC)

I'm going to try my best to keep this shorter since these teams have already played twice. In fact, I'm not even going to do my usual lengthy previews for a game, but rather just quickly review the team since the two last played and quickly go over the last game these two played. 

Virginia Tech and FSU played in Blacksburg on February 17th, with the Hokies winning 83-75. Since then, the Hokies have gone 4-3, winning their last three games of the season to secure the 8 seed, with all of the losses coming on the road to North Carolina, Pitt, and Syracuse. That win streak came in the middle of Wake Forest's backslide. 

Virginia Tech won this game with three key factors: points off turnovers, free throw efficiency, and offensive rebounding. While the overall turnover differential wasn't much (FSU had 13 turnovers to VT's 11), the Hokies dominated points off turnovers, scoring 23 to FSU's 7. That's usually an area where Florida State dominates, so for Virginia Tech to win that was huge. 

Even if Florida State was fouling at the end, The Hokies still shot a blistering 28/32 from the free-throw line. That's a large percentage of points coming from the stripe and it's not something FSU will be able to overcome this time. 

Lynn Kidd grabbed 6 of Virginia Tech's 13 offensive rebounds, which is defeating the more it continues to happen, especially from one player. Florida State did a good job of limiting him in the first game, they're going to have to get back to that. 

Sean Pedulla, Hunter Cattoor, and Tyler Nickel have all been lethal from 3 throughout ACC play, so it'll be interesting to see how Florida State decides to defend those players in this game. 

Florida State Seminoles Review (16-15 Overall, 10-10 ACC)

Since that loss in Blacksburg, Florida State has gone 3-4, with all of the wins coming at home. The likeliest big concern is none of those wins were over teams as good as Virginia Tech has been this season, as they were all wins over teams that played on Tuesday of the ACC Tournament. 

Florida State won this game the way they usually win games: forcing a high rate of turnovers (16 turnovers, turnover rate of 22.2%) and relentlessly attacking the basket (46 2-point attempts and 29 free throws). This isn't usually a team that can win by settling for 3s like we saw Saturday against Miami, so hopefully this team gets back to how it usually plays. 

Furthering that point, FSU is 4-13 when their 3-point rate falls between 29% and 42%. They've had four games above 42% which have all been wins (because they made 36.4% of their threes), and ten games below 29%, where they've been 8-2. This is a team that wants to live on the inside and get to the free-throw line, using Jamir Watkins's strength on the inside as a driver to open up everything else. 

They also held Virginia Tech's offensive rebound rate down in the game at home to just 25%, one of FSU's best performances on the defensive glass all season. Compared to the game in Blacksburg when they allowed an offensive rebound rate of 43.3%, and it's easy to see how much of a difference one aspect of the game can affect the entirety of it. 

Injury Report

Cam'Ron Fletcher is out for the season with a knee injury. 

Virginia Tech's Mekhi Long hasn't played since January 20th and not much has been made available about his status. 

Projected Starters

Virginia Tech

G: Sean Pedulla

G: Hunter Cattoor

G: MJ Collins

F: Robbie Beran

F: Lynn Kidd

Florida State

G: Jalen Warley

G: Darin Green Jr. 

F: Jamir Watkins

F: Baba Miller

F: Cameron Corhen

Keys to the Game

Keep Track of Pedulla, Cattoor, and Nickel

These three combined for 54 points while shooting a combined 8/13 from three and 18/20 from the free-throw line in the second matchup in this series in February. There were multiple times in transition where Florida State would lose one of these three in transition and they'd make the 'Noles pay by hitting an open shot or get to the basket with ease. Knowing where those three are on the perimeter has to be a priority. I also don't think anyone needs a reminder of what Pedulla and Cattoor have done to FSU in Tallahassee the last few seasons. 

Defensive Rebounding

Arguably the biggest reason Virginia Tech beat Florida State in Blacksburg was Lynn Kidd's work on both ends of the glass, finishing with 15 total rebounds. Let's focus on his work on the offensive glass, where he had 6 of VT's 13 offensive rebounds, and was a big reason why they had 10 second-chance points. Even if Virginia Tech wasn't always scoring on those second chances, they're back-breaking the more you give up. 

Florida State is going to have to do a better job of keeping VT off the glass, but especially Kidd.


FSU can't lose the turnover battle as badly as they did in February. They had 13 turnovers to Virginia Tech's 11, but Virginia Tech outscored the 'Noles 23-7 off of turnovers, a statistic Florida State usually wins. They're going to have to get back to their usual ways with turnovers to come away with a win in this one. 

Game Prediction

Virginia Tech is favored by 3 points with a projected total of 152.5. 

If you split these two teams' games down the middle of the two results, you'd get a 78-76 Virginia Tech win. KenPom's projected score is a 78-75 Virginia Tech win. If you just use the projected total and spread, it'd be somewhere around a Virginia Tech 78-75 win. Neither team has been particularly good away from home recently either, as both teams are just 1-6 in their last seven road games, so it's really hard to deviate from what all the experts are saying. However, this season has been weird, so I'm going to have Virginia Tech winning somewhat handily. I've said all year that Florida State is a .500 basketball team and they'll get their chance to finish exactly .500 here (also, not trying to speak this into existence, but if Florida State were to lose by 23 points, they'd finish the season with the exact same amount of points scored as they would points allowed). 

Virginia Tech 81, Florida State 72

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