One thing that can separate a team on the bubble from others in advance of the NCAA Tournament is a strong conference record. Tonight, two bubble teams in the ACC look for their first conference win of the season, as the Florida State Seminoles (10-5, 0-3) and the NC State Wolfpack (10-6, 0-3) look to get back on the right track and bolster their tournament resumes in the process.
Maverick B. previews tonight’s game by looking at several key areas, including some projected starting lineups, top role player match-ups to watch, and some background information on both teams and coaches that could be a big factor in tonight’s contest.
Tonight’s game can be seen on ESPN3 with tip-off at 9:00pm ET! Scroll on down to take a look at College Court Report’s official Florida State vs NC State preview.
Did you Know?
- NC State leads the all-time series record at 30-22
- The Seminoles’ last win over NC State came on March 9th, 2013 (71-67)
- The Wolfpack’s last win over Florida State was January 17th, 2015 (72-63).
- In the last 4 games in the series, FSU is averaging 67.5 points per game, while NC State is averaging 74.3 points per game.
- Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton needs 19 more wins to take over 9th place on the all-time wins list in the ACC.
- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried has taken the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament every year he has been with the team
Projected Starting Lineups
Florida State Seminoles
G Xavier Rathan-Mayes (12.2 ppg, 5.5 apg)
G Malik Beasley (16.7 ppg, 5.9rpg)
G Dwayne Bacon (16.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
F Montay Brandon (4.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
C Boris Bojanovsky (6.7 ppg, 1.7 bpg)
NC State Wolfpack
G Anthony Barber (22.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg)
G Maverick Rowan (12.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
F Caleb Martin (12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
F Abdul-Malik Abu (11.1ppg, 8.4 rpg)
F BeeJay Anya (5.4 ppg, 2.9 bpg)
Key Role Player Match-up to Watch
Jarquez Smith (Florida State) vs Lennard Freeman (NC State)
The biggest role player match-up to watch tonight is the battle of two bigs; Florida State’s junior forward Jarquez Smith (6’9”, 236 pounds) and NC State’s junior forward Lennard Freeman (6’9”, 250 pounds). Smith enters tonight averaging 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game for the Seminoles, while Freeman is averaging 4.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest for the Wolfpack.
In his career at Florida State, Smith has been known as a shot blocker. To date, he has recorded 69 blocks in his career so far. His defensive skills helped rank the Seminoles as the fifth best in the ACC in block shots (4.8 blocks/game). Smith has been one of Leonard Hamilton’s key role players throughout his career. Smith was ranked as the 63rd best HS prospect in his class according to CBSSports.com . If Smith can come into tonight’s game and protect the rim from Cat Barber and NC State’s dynamic guards, the Seminoles can increase their chances to win tonight in Raleigh.
Lennard Freeman has been one of Mark Gottfried’s key role players in two key areas this season: offensively scoring and rebounding. In terms of scoring, Freeman ranks sixth on the Wolfpack in points per game (players who have only played double-digit games) this season. Second, despite not being a starter, Freeman ranks second on the team in rebounds this season (6.8 rebounds per game; 46 total offensive rebounds, 62 total defensive rebounds). Freeman has recorded one double-double this season but has had several games where he was strong on the glass, having games where he pulled in 13 rebounds, 10 rebounds, 13 rebounds, 8 rebounds, and 6 rebounds. If Freeman can record a double-double performance tonight, or flirt with one like he has on so many occasions, I predict that NC State will win tonight.
Keys to Victory – Florida State Seminoles
1) Depth for the Seminoles could play the biggest factor
The Seminoles have 11 players who have played in double-digit games
– Outside of the projected starting 5, the other 6 players have a combined average of 31.8 points and 17.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.5% from the field.
The Wolfpack have 7 players who have played in double-digit games
– Outside of the projected starting 5, the other 2 players have combined to average 10.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.3% from the floor on the year.
Keys to Victory – NC State Wolfpack
- Limit FSU guard Dwayne Bacon’s production in the 2nd half
– Note: Bacon has scored only 92 1st half points compared to 159 2nd half points this season
2. Own the glass
– Note: Florida State has 173 offensive rebounds and 409 defensive rebounds, compared to NC State’s 249 offensive rebounds and 439 defensive rebounds. The Wolfpack have a +106 rebounding margin.
3. Limit the Seminoles chances to free throw line; NC State connects on free throws
Florida State – 69.1 FT% in ACC play through three games
> The Seminoles have 6 players making over 69.0% of their free throws.
NC State – 63.5 FT% in ACC play through three games
> The Wolfpack have only 3 players making over 63.0% from the free throw line.
Score Prediction: Florida State 72, NC State 63