2007-08 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State

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Virginia Tech (12-8, 3-3 ACC) vs Florida State (13-8, 2-4 ACC)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 9:00

TV: Regional SportsNet (check local listings)


Special Preview Items:

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Game Preview: Fresh off a road win at Boston College on Saturday,
Virginia Tech returns home to take on Florida State in a big conference matchup
on Tuesday night. The Seminoles are coming off a tough home loss to NC State,
but the race to see who can finish highest behind Duke and UNC is still on. They
are still squarely in the mix, and stealing an ACC win on the road would mean
quite a bit.

Florida State is 2-4 in the ACC, one of just two teams (the other being UVA)
with four conference losses so far. Ignore that spot in the standings. They are
just one game behind Virginia Tech and a bunch of other teams in the loss
column. Things are only just beginning to sort themselves out in the ACC.

The Seminoles bring their own set of unique challenges into Cassell Coliseum.
This game will be about matchups. In the case of Florida State, they have four
experienced guards, three of whom are seniors. That matches up well with
Virginia Tech’s freshmen point guards, Hank Thorns and Malcolm Delaney.

Here’s a look at the starting lineup FSU is expected to use on Tuesday night.


FSU Probable Starters

Pos

Name

Ht

Wt

Year

PPG

RPG

Assists

G

Toney Douglas

6-1

200

Jr.

14.1

2.7

64

G

Isaiah Swann

6-2

198

Sr.

12.2

3.4

63

G

Jason Rich

6-3

211

Sr.

12

4.7

44

F

Uche Echefu

6-9

225

So.

11.6

7.3

15

F

Ryan Reid

6-8

237

So.

4.8

4.7

11

Obviously this is a guard oriented offense. Toney Douglas is the only junior in
the backcourt, but he is a r-junior, the same age as a true senior. They’ve even
got senior guard Ralph Mims coming off the bench averaging 10.7 points per game.
They are a similar team as the Virginia Tech team we saw last year. They have a
lot of experience at guard, and they play very good defense.

The
Seminoles have five players that average double figures, four of whom start.
Ralph Mims is the fifth leading scorer at 10.7 per game, but there is a big
dropoff after him. Ryan Reid is behind Mims in scoring, but he is averaging just
4.7 points per game.

Florida State is capable of scoring points, but their best attribute as a
team is their defense. Point guard Toney Douglas leads the ACC in steals,
averaging 2.71 per game. Besides Douglas, Isaiah Swann, Jason Rich and Ralph
Mims all have good size.

Rich in particular is a very strong guard. He can get in the paint and finish
against bigger players. He can back down smaller players, such as Tech’s Hank
Thorns, or even Malcolm Delaney.

Offensively, Florida State is dangerous, especially when they go with their
smaller lineup. It gives them a speed advantage over almost every team they
play. All of their guards are capable of hitting the three-pointer, and starting
power forward Uche Echefu has even attempted 36 three-pointers this year. They
will set a lot of screens to try and get their playmakers set up for open looks.
The Hokies must be particularly mindful of Isaiah Swann from the outside. He is
a 39.2% three-point shooter, and he’s attempted 120 outside shots on the season.

I
would expect Florida State to go small for much of this game. They will try to
force the Hokies into a smaller lineup, which will negate the Hokies’ major
rebounding edge to a certain extent. Still, Tech will have the rebounding
advantage in this game no matter what lineup FSU goes with.

A couple of names in Florida State’s starting lineup might look familiar to
you. Isaiah Swann is a former player at Hargrave Military Academy who the Hokies
were heavily involved with. Uche Echefu came down to Florida State and Virginia
Tech, and ultimately selected the Seminoles.

The ‘Noles have had some injury problems this year. Freshman center Solomon
Alabi, a 5-star player, is out for the season. Freshman forward Julian Vaughn, a
Virginia native and former VT target, has been injured as well, though he is in
the process of getting back up to speed. Here is a look at how FSU coach Leonard
Hamilton used his players in their latest game against NC State


FSU Playing Time vs. NC State

Name

Position

Minutes

Uche Echefu

F

36

Toney Douglas

G

32

Isaiah Swann

G

32

Ryan Reid

F

30

Jason Rich

G

27

Ralph Mims

G

26

Julian Vaughn

F

10

Matt Zitani

F

4

Jordan DeMercy

G

3

The ‘Noles only played seven guys, and only six players got more than 10
minutes. Hamilton does not have many lineup options right now.

Here is a look at how the teams match up statistically.


VT vs. FSU
(ACC Games Only)

Category


VT

FSU

Advantage


Stat

ACC Rank

Stat

ACC Rank
FG % 40.10% 11 41.20% 9 FSU
FG % Defense 42.10% 3 46.40% 10 VT
3-Pt. % 26.20% 11 36.10% 5 FSU
3-Pt. % Defense 33.30% 6 39.30% 9 VT
FT % 67.60% 9 74.80% 3 FSU
Rebounding Margin +5.7 2 -2.3 9 VT
Turnover Margin -4.00 12 +0.17 7 FSU
Assist-to-TO ratio 0.62 12 0.67 11 FSU
Scoring Offense 71.2 10 66.7 12 VT
Scoring Defense 74.5 3 73.5 2 FSU

Average

7.9

7.7
FSU

Some of those are very interesting numbers. Generally the Hokies are playing a
team that outscores them, but doesn’t defend as well. However, Florida State has
the worst scoring offense in ACC games, but they feature the #2 scoring defense.

The Hokies have a huge advantage on the boards. The Seminoles are one of the
worst rebounding teams in the ACC because of their size. The Hokies are
dominating teams on the boards, even without Jeff Allen over the last two games.

Put an asterisk next to the free throw stats. Florida State has dropped off a
bit in free throw shooting since ACC play began, but for the entire season they
are #1 in the nation, at 79.1%. They have five players shooting above 80% on the
year, and two others are above 70%. This is as good a free throw shooting team
as you’ll see in college basketball.

Overall, just based on the statistical comparison above, this is a very even
matchup. Much like the Virginia game and the Maryland game, the ‘Noles and
Hokies appear to be pretty even. It should be another great ACC game.

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