Florida State gets set to participate in the ESPN Invitational this holiday weekend in Orlando, which will hopefully see more progress from a team that is still learning to play together. Their first game will be at 11am Thanksgiving Day against Siena, then play the winner/loser of Ole Miss and Stanford. The whole bracket is listed below.
I'll do my best to keep pieces fresh and brief this weekend, as it's a lot of games in a short time frame. FSU is coming into this game having finally won their first game of the season against Mercer, and are starting to get some able bodies back. They're hoping to be able to find a groove with this first game against Siena.
Siena enters this tournament 2-2, with wins over Albany and Holy Cross and losses to Army and Harvard. You'd like to think FSU is better than those teams, but it's been a rough start to the season for the Seminoles. A lot of people were expecting the first few games to be iffy with a lack of available players, but no one expected 0-4. No one expected the first win to come two weeks into the season against Mercer. They've had their chances, but the season has unfolded this way for a reason.
There are two main players you need to know for Siena: Javian McCollum and Andrew Platek (a name you might recognize). McCollum is averaging 15.8 PPG on 50% shooting from the floor and 41.2% from 3, while also dishing out 4.5 APG. He struggles taking care of the basketball with 4 turnovers per game, so I'm expecting FSU to ramp up the pressure to get the ball out of his hands early and often. Platek is a former UNC transfer that has found new life with Siena. He never averaged more than 3.9 PPG and 18 minutes per game for the Tar Heels, but averaged 9 PPG in 5 games for Siena last year before tearing his Achilles. He's come back this year looking better than ever 14.5 PPG on 53.8% shooting from the floor and 50% from 3 (6.5 attempts per game). He knows FSU pretty well, having played 6 games against the 'Noles in his career at UNC, though he never scored more than 5 points against FSU. It'll be interesting to see how he performs in this one.
A couple of other players to note, Jackson Stormo is their "Center" at 6'9", so I'm expecting FSU to play some small-ball to match up with him, though he mainly operates on the interior. He's averaging 10.7 PPG and 6 RPG and close to 30 minutes per game so far. Jayce Johnson is shooting 50% from 3 on 2.5 attempts from deep per game, but is shooting just 31% on 2s to start. Their leading rebounder is Michael Baer, a 6'7" forward that comes off of the bench just to be a rebounding animal. He and guard Jared Billups are both averaging 2 offensive rebounds per game.
Siena is scoring 75 points per game but they're also allowing 73 PPG, so there's a chance for a lot of offense in this one. There have been some things I've liked about Florida State's defense in the first half of the last two games, but there is still plenty to improve upon, mainly 3-point defense and forcing turnovers. Siena is shooting 41.5% from deep as a team, but they also turn it over 16 times per game, while FSU is allowing teams to shoot 37.7% from 3 and only forcing 11.6 turnovers per game, and that's including the UCF game where they forced 18. They've been better in this aspect, but I think they could have a big performance here in this phase of the game.
Florida State is favored over Siena by 8.5 points with an over/under of 141.
I'm... pretty sure FSU is going to win, but there is a world where Siena just lights up nets and FSU doesn't have the answers for it. I'll still take the 'Noles in this game.
FSU 74 Siena 68
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