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Game Preview: Florida State vs UNF

This could be a trap game for the Seminoles, sandwiched between the upset of Duke and a road trip to Miami.

Florida State left the floor around 11:30 pm Tuesday night. 36 hours of rest later, they're right back at it against UNF, which was rescheduled due to COVID from earlier in the season. It's crammed in here to give FSU that simulation of quick turnarounds like in the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. UNF isn't that great of a team, but it's a solid test nonetheless. FSU can't afford to sleepwalk in this game, given how much they'll want to.

This will be a pretty brief preview (for me), as there's really only a couple of things to talk about with North Florida, and it's the same as it's been the last couple of seasons. FSU has played the Ospreys six times ever, three of them have been in the last three season. These are teams and coaches familiar with each other. FSU is 6-0 all times in this series, winning by an average of 17.2 PPG. 

This game will be at 12PM EST (noon games on a weekday are not fun) on ACCNX, live from the Donald L Tucker Center. 

North Florida Ospreys (4-14, 0-5) Breakdown

I thought UNF was a little better than they actually are before I went through their games. Here are who their 4 wins are against: Webber International College, Edward Waters, Austin Peay, and Trinity Baptist. Only one of those schools are Division 1. Their 14 losses come at an average of 16.7 PPG. If you take out games they've played in conference, that average balloons to 20.5 PPG. 

So safe to say, this isn't a good team. The notorious Birds of Trey aren't as lethal from 3 as they're used to being, and it's having an impact on the team. As a team, they're only shooting 32.3% from 3, an all-time low for them since Coach Driscoll became the head man. They only have three players on the roster shooting better than 35% from 3. This team is a far cry from the one that made the NCAA Tournament a few years ago. Despite this, they still take more 3s than all but 18 teams in college basketball. They're going to continue firing from deep no matter the circumstance. 

They also turn it over a LOT. They have one of the 20 worst turnover rates in the country. It would not surprise me to see them have a turnover rate north of 35% in this game between their natural coughing it up, and FSU's constant ball pressure. 

Defensively, they're not much to talk about. They play mostly man, but have played about 90 possessions of zone this season. I wouldn't be surprised to see them play a little more zone given FSU's struggles against it. They're the second worst team nationally in defensive rebounding rate, so expect FSU to gash them on the offensive glass. They're about average in forced turnover rate, which is about the only thing they're not bad at on this side of the ball. 

There's only a couple of players to keep on for FSU: Jose Placer and Carter Hendricksen. Hendricksen has been a solid player over his career, but has really regressed this season. His shooting percentages are at career low levels, despite him being a senior, and he's turning it over more than ever. 

Placer's efficiency has also taken a major hit. He shot 38.1% from 3 last season, yet is shooting just 25.6% this season, a huge dropoff. He leads the team in scoring, but he's down almost entirely across the board statistically. You can't leave him open despite his down numbers. 

The three shooters for UNF above 35% from 3 are Jarius Hicklen, Emmanuel Adedoyin (leads the team at 43%), and Dorian James. Another fun fact is their starting "center", Jadyn Parker, is listed at 6' 10" and 180 pounds, so it kind of makes sense why their rebounding rate is so poor. 

Florida State Seminoles (11-5, 5-2) Breakdown

While FSU looks to build on the Duke win, there are a couple of things they need to bring to every game, and a couple of things to still improve upon. Let's start with what they can continue in every game. 

The offensive rebounding against Duke was as good as it's ever been. If you're going to miss 46 shots, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds is a great way to make up for it. I'm not expecting them to keep up an offensive rebounding rate of 40.4% for the rest of the season, but if they can keep it up above 34%, they're going to be really hard to beat. 

Forcing turnovers comes with the territory for FSU's defense, though forcing Duke into a turnover rate above 20% is impressive. FSU is currently forcing a 23.3% turnover rate on the season, I fully expect that to continue. 

As far as what they can improve on, it starts with zone offense. I don't know how much of it we'll see against UNF, just given that the Ospreys have only played about 90 possessions of zone all season, but I wouldn't be surprised if they came out in one. FSU needs as much practice against the zone as possible. The last 6 minutes against Duke, they looked shell-shocked against the zone and have to find ways to score against it. 

The other thing is more consistent shooting. They were 4/9 from 3 in the first half, then just 1/12 in the second half, which allowed Duke to crawl back into the game. They're able to generate open looks against man defense, but sometimes struggle to make them. They'll get there, but it's taking a little longer than the staff probably would've expected. 

Projected Starters

Florida State

G: RayQuan Evans

G: Caleb Mills

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G: Anthony Polite

F: John Butler

C: Naheem McLeod

North Florida

G: Jose Placer

G: Emmanuel Adedoyin

G: Jarius Hicklen

F: Carter Hendricksen

F: Jadyn Parker

Injury Report

I'm expecting Malik Osborne to sit out this game with his ankle injury. He was doubtful heading into the Duke game, then was second on the team in minutes with 34. He needs some rest. 

Tanor Ngom saw about 90 seconds of playing time against Duke, which was good to see him recover quickly. The actual injury wasn't as bad as initially reported. 

Keys to the Game

Forget the Duke Game

Tuesday night was a great win for the program. Gave them a resume defining win that they'll be hoping to build off of. The best thing they can do is to completely forget about it and put the game behind them. It was an emotionally and physically taxing game, so hopefully they've recovered. UNF is a much different team than Duke, so they have to be able to forget about that gameplan and get ready for a new one. 

Slow the Tempo

Florida State has slowed the amounts of possessions in the last few games, while UNF prefers playing at a faster tempo, but seem to play at the other team's tempo more often than not. Florida State is going to pressure them for 94 feet, make every pass tough, and really try to slow the game down. Slowing the game down also allows guys to get a little more rest. Ideally, FSU gets the main guys out with 4 or 5 minutes left, and they can get a break before Miami on Saturday. 

Defend the 3

UNF does one thing and one thing only: shoot the 3. They 19th nationally in 3PA with 28.4 per game, but have been a lot worse than the last few season at actually making them. Their 32.3% from 3 would be the worst since Coach Driscoll got to UNF. There's going to be a heavy emphasis on FSU's 3-point defense, making sure they limit as many open looks as possible. 

Game Prediction

FSU opened as 21.5-point favorites, with an over/under of 137.5. 

UNF may be really, really bad, but it's still the middle game of 3 games in 5 days, and the weakest of the three opponents by a wide margin. It would be more than reasonable to expect FSU to sleepwalk a little bit in this game, and empty the bench when the game is out of hand. 

Florida State will win, but it's always tough to expect anyone to win by more than 20. 

FSU 81-66