Date: Saturday, February 6
TV: ACC Network
Virginia Tech will face Florida State for the second time this season. They lost to the Seminoles 86-75 in Tallahassee last month, and they’ll try to return the favor in Cassell Coliseum. Florida State is 12-11 overall and 4-6 in the ACC, and they’ve won three of their last five games.
The Hokies have played four straight games that have been decided by three points of less, losing three of them. There is no reason to believe that Saturday’s game won’t be close as well. Florida State has just one road win on the season, while Tech’s performances are trending up.
Let’s take a look at Florida State’s starting lineup.
G Xavier Rathan-Mayes (6-4, 190, Fr.): 13.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 99 assists. Rathan-Mays had 22 points against Tech in the first meeting as he got to the glass at will. The Hokies have to keep him confined to the perimeter.
G Devon Bookert (6-3, 193, Jr.): 10.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg. Bookert shoots 39.4% from three-point range, which is tops on the team.
G Montay Brandon (6-8, 225, Jr.): 12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg. The Greensboro native is perhaps the tallest wing the Hokies will see this year. He is not an outside threat, but he’s very good around the basket against smaller guards. (Note: Brandon, a guard, would be the second biggest player on Tech’s team. Let that one sink in.)
F Phil Cofer (6-8, 205, Fr.): 7.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg. Cofer is a solid freshman who originally signed with Tennessee, but who eventually picked Florida State over the Hokies.
C Michael Ojo (7-1, 292, Jr.): 2.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg. Ojo is huge, but he’s not very good. He’ll start, but he only averages 8.5 minutes per game.
FSU will play two other seven footers as well. Kiel Turpin (7-0, 240, r-Sr.) and Boris Bojanovsky (7-3, 240, Jr.) combine to average 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. The Seminoles will always have a seven footer on the court, so the Hokies will have to play very tough, and they must play bigger than they actually are.
Florida State is 46.1% from the field on the season, and they finish well inside. However, they shoot only 28% from three-point range and just 66.4% from the free throw line. The Hokies have to deny the basketball, stop the dribble drive, and limit the Seminoles to shots from the perimeter.
Here’s how the two teams stack up in the efficiency ratings…
Offensive efficiency: VT #170, FSU #194
Defensive efficiency: VT #198, FSU #137
Rebound rate: VT #328, FSU #121
Turnovers per possession: VT #159, FSU #293
Opp. turnovers per possession: VT #141, FSU #214
Average those numbers out, and here’s what you get…
In other words, this is as even a matchup as you can get. Florida State is better on the boards, while the Hokies shoot it better and have been better at turnovers.
An encouraging number for the Hokies is their recent rebounding margin. First, let’s look at the margin from their first seven ACC games…
Notre Dame: -14
That’s not good. In fact, it’s downright terrible. However, that number has gotten a lot better in their last two basketball games. The Hokies have been better at boxing out, and they appear to be playing scrappier than they were in earlier games.
Wake and Syracuse are two good rebounding teams, so the improvement is impressive. FSU outrebounded Tech by 20 on the road earlier this year, but if Tech can continue to improve on the boards they should have a chance to win tomorrow’s game.