Date: Tuesday, January 6, 2015
VT: RSN (Check local listings)
Virginia Tech has not won a road game against Florida State since they joined the ACC. Their last win in Tallahassee came way back on February 24, 1990, when the Hokies knocked off the ‘Noles 84-74 in a Metro Conference game. The Donald L. Tucker Center remains the only ACC arena in which Tech has not won a conference game, with the exception of the ACC’s most recent entrees (Pitt, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Louisville).
Just like Virginia Tech, Florida State is 8-6 on the season with an 0-1 mark in the ACC. Also like the Hokies, some of their losses haven’t been pretty. Here’s a list of their six defeats:
Home vs. Northeastern 76-73
Neutral vs. Providence 80-54
Neutral vs. UMass 75-69
Home vs. Nebraska 70-65
Road vs. Notre Dame 83-63
Road vs. Mississippi State 62-55
Florida State did manage to defeat Florida when the Gators accidentally tipped in the game-winning shot for the ‘Noles. However, Florida is only 7-6 and not your typical Billy Donovan team. The win over the Gators (#146 RPI) was FSU’s only win over a top 150 team this year. Overall, the resumes of both the Hokies and the Seminoles are pretty similar.
Here’s Florida State’s projected starting lineup.
G Xavier Rathan-Mayes (6-4, 190, Fr.): 11.7 ppg, 23% three-point shooter, 63 assists, 53 turnovers
G Devon Bookert (6-3, 193, Jr.): 9.7 ppg, 39.5% three-point shooter
G Montay Brandon (6-8, 225, Jr.): 13.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg
F Phil Cofer (6-8, 205, Fr.): 6.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg
C Michael Ojo (7-1, 292, Jr.): 3.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Florida State is a long, lengthy basketball team, just as they usually are under Leonard Hamilton. They like to get the ball inside and get to the free throw line, though as a team they lack shooters. Take a look at these stats:
3pt. shooting: 49-of-191 (25.7%)
FT shooting: 227-of-350 (64.9%)
FSU only has one three-point threat, and that’s Devon Bookert. Their free throw shooting is hurt by center Michael Ojo, who is only 11-of-31 for the season, though starting wing Montay Brandon (63%) is hurting things as well.
Here’s an advanced stats comparison of the Hokies and the ‘Noles.
Offensive Efficiency: VT #113, FSU #203
Defensive Efficiency: VT #124, FSU #94
Floor percentage: VT #108, FSU #105
Rebounding Percentage: VT #243, FSU #104
Turnovers per Possession: VT #219, FSU #313
Opponent Turnovers per Possession: VT #71, FSU #83
The Hokies have a nice advantage in offensive efficiency, while FSU is slightly ahead in defensive efficiency. They are virtually even in floor percentage, while the ‘Noles are way ahead in rebounding. In what may come as a surprise, Tech has been better (though still not good) at protecting the ball than Florida State. FSU is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to turnovers. In terms of turnovers forced, the teams are pretty even.
Florida State does have a major size advantage on the inside. Besides Michael Ojo (7-1, 292), the ‘Noles also have Kiel Turpin (7-0, 240, r-Sr.) and Boris Bojanovsky (7-3, 240, Jr.). None of those guys are great players, but the Hokies only have one center, and that’s freshman Satchel Pierce. Joey van Zegeren will miss his second consecutive game due to an indefinite suspension. Shane Henry (6-8, 190) will have to see time at center again, and if both of those guys get into foul trouble like they did against Syracuse, Buzz Williams will use a five guard lineup.
The formula for winning this game is obvious. The Hokies need to stop the ball and limit FSU to a lot of outside jumpers, and then they need to get defensive rebounds to prevent second chance baskets. If they do that, they’ll have a good chance to pick up the first ACC win of the Buzz Williams era.