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Notre Dame Basketball: Florida State Preview - Round 2

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The long awaited rematch with Florida State is here. OFD has it previewed for you.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-7, 7-5 ACC) found themselves back in the win column on Tuesday for the first time in over two weeks, as they took down Wake Forest 88-81. Next up for the Irish is a daunting matchup with the No.14 Florida State Seminoles (21-4, 9-3 ACC). A win over the Seminoles here isn’t a must, but it would look very nice on a tournament resume and would factor into how the Irish would be seeded.

The Irish and ‘Noles met back in mid-January in Tallahassee and Florida State came away with a 83-80 victory. In that game Notre Dame shot 15-21 from three-point land and still found themselves on the short end of the stick. As we know by now, Florida State is a very deep and uber athletic team. One thing the Irish could have going for them is that Florida State has been a different team on the road this season. A raucous, sold out Purcell Pavilion could do wonders for the Irish.

Game Notes

  • Florida State leads the all-time series 4-1
  • Florida State took down the Irish 83-80 back on January 18th
  • In the January 18th meeting Notre Dame was 15-21 from three-point land.
  • Notre Dame won the last meeting at Purcell Pavilion on December 13, 2014, 83-63
  • According to KenPom.com Florida State is rated 13th, Notre Dame is rated 25th
  • Florida State is 18th in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency
  • With win on Saturday Notre Dame would set the school record for most wins in a three year span at 75. They are currently tied with the mark set from 2010-2013
  • Junior forward Bonzie Colson was recently named to the top 30 candidates for the Naismith Award
  • Colson’s ACC leading 16 double-doubles is the sixth most in a season during the Mike Brey era. Luke Harongody tops the list with 25 during the 2008-09 season
  • Colson has totaled 269 rebounds this season. That ranks seventh in the nation and first in the ACC
  • Colson is 19 points away from 1,000 for his career. Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem have already reached the 1,000 point plateau this season. If Colson reaches the mark it will be the first time since 1991-92 that three players reached 1,000 in the same season

When: Saturday, February 11, 2017, 6:00pm ET

Where: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN

How to Watch: ESPN or WatchESPN

No.14 Florida State Seminoles (21-4, 8-3 ACC)

Florida State comes into Saturday’s matchup smoking hot. After dropping two in a row in embarrassing fashion two weeks ago, Florida State is fresh off a three-game winning streak. During this streak they’ve won by an average margin of 30 points. Granted two of those wins were over ACC bottom feeders Clemson and NC State, but still is impressive nonetheless.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

In the preview of the January matchup, I said that this is a Final Four caliber team. I’ll go even farther this time and say Florida State is the best team in the ACC. They have the star power with guys like Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac. They got the length and the size, but most importantly they have the depth. The ‘Noles have 11 players averaging over 10 MPG (nearly 12 with P.J. Savoy at 9.8 MPG). This team can also score the basketball in bunches.

Bacon was not his usual self last time out against the Irish. He only had 11 points on 5-13 shooting, 2 assists and fouled out. In the six games since, Bacon has averaged 18.3 PPG.

Isaac was as advertised last time we saw him. In the last matchup the future first-round pick dominated as he poured in 23 points, 11 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. Notre Dame will need to some how find an answer for him on Saturday evening.

In the previous matchup Notre Dame struggled mightily with Florida State’s length. The ‘Noles had 11 blocks in the January 18th matchup. The Irish also shot just 12-37 (32%) on two-pointers. Florida State is one of the rare teams that can take out one seven-footer (Michael Ojo) and replace him with another (Christ Koumadje).

Three Weaknesses

Road Woes: Florida State has been completely different team on the road this season. The ‘Noles have played just five true road games all season and are 2-3 in such games. We know FSU is one of the highest scoring teams in the country, but in their five road games they’re averaging just 69.2 PPG. For reference, they average 84.8 PPG for the season.

Free Throw Shooting: Florida State ranks 183rd in team free throw percentage as they shoot 69% from the line. They do get to the line fairly frequently as they average just over 24 attempts per game (30th NCAA). Those number rang true in the first matchup, as the ‘Noles were 16-23 (69%) from the charity stripe.

Fouling: In basketball there are’t too many disadvantages of being big. The only one is that you’re going to get fouls called on you. Florida State commits nearly 20 fouls per game, which ranks them 203rd nationally. Because of this opponents are getting almost nearly 23 free throw attempts per game (252nd NCAA).

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Three Strengths

Scoring Offense: The ‘Noles can score, score and score some more. They’re the 10th best scoring offense in the country at 84.4 PPG. In their three game winning streak they are averaging 93 PPG.

Transition Offense: Florida State will want to get out and run to try and get some easy buckets. The ‘Noles rank 35th nationally in FG% in transition (61%). Nearly a fourth of their shot attempts come in transition.

Rim Protection: The Irish know about this all too well. Florida State ranks 19th in blocks per game and 93rd in block percentage. The ‘Noles blocked 11 shots in the meeting in Tallahassee.

Seminoles to Watch

Jonathan Isaac - 6’10”, Forward, Freshman

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Isaac was the best player on the floor last time these two teams matched up. He scored and rebounded the ball, defended and blocked shots. Theres no guessing why this kid is projected NBA lottery pick. If Notre Dame decided to go man, they might have to roll the dice and put V.J. Beachem on Isaac. Beachem has struggled to defend in the past, so it would be a risky play. Isaac is very efficient around the rim as he’s shooting 71.8% at the rim this season. What makes him so dangerous is his ability to step outside and shoot the ball. Isaac was 2-2 from three in the previous matchup.

Dwayne Bacon - 6’7”, Guard, Sophomore

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Irish held Bacon in check in the first meeting, but it’s hard to expect him having another subpar performance this time out. Bacon is Florida State’s primary scoring option as leads the team at 17.6 PPG. Like Isaac, he is a tough player to defender because he can do a little bit of everything. He does a good job of getting to the rim (33% of FGA at the rim) and converting (61% FG% at the rim), and he also can hurt you from the outside (39% 3PT%). Steve Vasturia matched up with Bacon in the previous matchup, and did a great job against him. It is a pretty good bet that we’ll see that again on Saturday.

P.J. Savoy - 6’4”, Guard, Sophomore

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Savoy’s stat line does not jump off the page. He averages just 9.4 MPG and 6.7 PPG, but what he provides off the bench is what makes him a player to keep your eye on. Savoy is FSU’s best three point shooter and when he comes into the came, he strictly does that. 87% of his shots this season have been three-point attempts and he’s converted on 40.8% of them. In the first matchup with Notre Dame, Savoy sparked the Seminoles with quick threes off the bench. When he steps on the court on Saturday, Notre Dame must be alert because he can pull up from anywhere, anytime and knock down a three.

Pick to Click

Matt Farrell - 6’1”, Guard, Junior

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Every time I pick Farrell, good things tend to happen. I went with him against Wake and he had 16 points, 6 assists and was 3-5 from three-point land en route to an Irish victory. He showed he can handle FSU’s size and length in the first game as he scored 17 points and 7 assists. Farrell can get a little sloppy with the ball at times, but he usually makes up for it in other ways. Farrell continues to play at an All-ACC level, and I like for him to keep it up Saturday against the ‘Noles.

Prediction

Florida State 80 - Notre Dame 71

As much as I would like to pick the Irish, I just don’t see it happening. Notre Dame had to shoot 15-21 from three in the first matchup, only to lose by three points. It’s hard to expect Notre Dame to shoot that well again. If they do, I would like their chances, but again a performance like that is too hard to expect.

Florida State’s height will cause loads of trouble to an Irish team that has recently gone super small.

I don’t see Notre Dame having an answer for Jonathan Isaac. They could decide to go zone, but then that would leave open three point attempts to guys like Savoy, Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Last time out against Wake Forest, it was the first game I can remember all season where the big four (Vasturia, Beachem, Farrell, Colson) all showed up offensively. If that can happen again on Saturday I’ll like Notre Dame’s chances, but since we’ve seen it so infrequently I’m not banking on it.

Lastly, if Notre Dame wants any shot of winning...WEAR THE GOLD JERSEYS.

All stats from: TeamRankings.com, HoopMath.com, KenPom.com, ESPN.com, UND.com, TheACC.com