2005-06 Basketball Game Preview: Florida State at Virginia Tech

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Note: Roster Cards are not available for today’s game.

Virginia Tech returns to Cassell Coliseum on Saturday night to take on the Florida State Seminoles in an ACC battle that is critical for both teams. The Hokies (13-13, 3-10) are trying to earn a spot in the NIT, while the Seminoles (17-7, 7-6) are looking to inch closer to an NCAA Tournament berth. Tech enters the contest having dropped three games in a row, while FSU has won four of their last five games.

Florida State is one of the ACC’s deepest and most balanced teams. The Seminoles could play as many as 11 players against the Hokies, and no member of the team averages more than 28.6 minutes per game. They shoot the ball well and Tech will have to play well to earn the victory.

The Seminoles are led by junior forward Al Thornton, who is one of the top players in the ACC. Thornton is the only forward in FSU’s three-guard lineup, and he is capable of scoring from the inside and outside. He is averaging 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Thornton shoots 54.2% from the field, and although he doesn’t take a lot of three-pointers, he is very good from the outside. He has hit 16-of-30 shots from behind the arch this season, good for 53.3%.

Another important player for Florida state is 6-10, 250-lbs. junior center Alexander Johnson. Johnson was a highly-rated recruit coming out of high school, but his career has been a bit disappointing until this season. He is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.3 points per game. He leads the team in rebounding, pulling down seven boards per game.

The Seminoles will start Jason Rich, Isaiah Swann and Todd Galloway at guard. Rich is the third-leading scorer on the team at 10.5 points per game. He is not much of a threat from three-point range, hitting just 20% of his shots on the season. Swann (8.5 ppg) has a green light to shoot from the outside, but can struggle with shot selection at times. He is a 33.3% shooter from three-point range. Galloway runs the point for Florida State, and he averages 7.7 points and 3.4 assists per game.

Florida State’s most important player off the bench is 6-6 senior guard Andrew Wilson. Wilson is a sixth-year senior, having been granted medical red shirts for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03). He is the only player in the ACC to have played in parts or all of six seasons. Wilson is a very dangerous three-point shooter. He has hit 37-of-71 three-pointers this year, a 52.1% mark. He is averaging 6.8 points per game.

In ACC play Florida State is a good scoring team, averaging 76.3 points per game. That ranks fourth in the conference. However they also allow 75.2 points per game, which ranks 10th in the ACC. Part of that is because they struggle with turnovers. The Seminoles give the ball up 16.2 times per game.

The turnover battle will be interesting to watch. Florida State also forces 17.8 turnovers per game and have a turnover margin of +1.69, fifth in the ACC. The Hokies are first in the conference at +5.69 turnovers per game. In the first meeting between these teams in January, Florida State won the turnover battle. The Hokies gave up the ball an uncharacteristic 17 times, while FSU committed just 13 turnovers. If Tech can reverse that statistic on Saturday night, they have a chance to win.

Florida State shoots the ball very well. In ACC play they are hitting 48.3% of their shots, which ranks third in the conference. The Seminoles are fourth in the league in three-point shooting, connecting on 39.4% of their shots from behind the arch. From a field goal percentage defense standpoint, the Seminoles are below average. Opponents shoot 45.3% from the field and 40.8% from three-point range against FSU, sixth and 10th in the ACC respectively.

Thanks to their three-guard lineup, Florida State doesn’t rebound the ball particularly well. Their rebounding margin in ACC play ranks eighth in the conference at -2.2 rebounds per game. The Hokies are last in the conference, barely, coming in at -5.1 per game. If Tech can have a good rebounding game against the Seminoles, they have a chance to pass Duke. The Blue Devils stand at -5 rebounds per game.

The Hokies are listed as 1.5 point favorites over Florida State heading into Saturday night’s game. If they shoot the ball well and win the turnover battle, they have a great chance to win. Tech will have open looks from the outside against Florida State’s defense, and it will be important that they knock them down. VT needs to find ways to get A.D. Vassallo some open looks from three-point range. When Vassallo gets hot he adds another dimension to Tech’s struggling offense.

Virginia Tech will also be playing for pride on Saturday night. If they lose, they will drop below the .500 mark for the first time this season. The Hokies have not finished with a losing record since the 2002-03 season, Ricky Stokes’ last season as head coach. Seth Greenberg has had just two losing seasons in 15 years as a head coach.

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