Your Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team plays its second game in three days’ time tonight, traveling to Tallahassee to take on the #16 Florida State Seminoles just two days after falling short at home against the #20 Virginia Tech Hokies.
Now below .500 on the year (13-14) and sitting at 3-11 in ACC play, the second-to-last-in-the-conference Irish will have to face an FSU team that’s won 8 of its last 9, and who was on an 8-game winning streak until their blowout loss on Saturday to the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.
So, what should we all know about the Seminoles, this match-up, and the likely loss inevitably coming for the Irish? Let’s take a look.
- This is the 9th meeting between these two teams, with the series currently knotted at 4 games apiece (per Alan Wasielewski, Associate Athletics Communication Director)
- Junior forward John Mooney now has 17 double-doubles this season and is the only ACC player averaging a double-double. He joins 5 other major-conference players across the country to average a double-double (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Mooney also boasts an ACC rebound average of 12.5 per game, leading all major conference players in league play this season (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Junior T.J. Gibbs has scored 78 points in the past four games (20 vs. Georgia Tech; 17 at No. 4/4 Virginia; 23 vs. Wake Forest and 18 against No. 20/18 Virginia Tech), compiling an average of 19.5 ppg over that stretch (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Freshman Prentiss Hubb has eclipsed 100 assists on the season with his team-leading 104 dimes dished out. He is just the 9th true freshman since freshmen became eligible in 1972-1973 to post 80+ assists during their rookie season, and now is the 4th Mike Brey-era guard to reach 100 assists in his rookie season (Chris Thomas, Tory Jackson, Eric Atkins) (per Alan Wasielewski)
- With a 9.7 average, Notre Dame is 5th in the country in turnovers committed per game (per Alan Wasielewski)
- The current ND freshman class has accumulated 2,105 minutes played as a group (Robby Carmody, Chris Doherty, Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb, Nate Laszewski), which is the most for any rookie class in the Mike Brey era and the 3rd-most at ND since freshmen became eligible in 1972-73 (per Alan Wasielewski)
Where: Donald L. Tucker Center — Tallahassee, Florida
When: Monday, February 25th at 7:00 PM ET
How to Watch:
- TV: ESPN Big Monday with Sean McDonough, Dan Dakich and Allison Williams
- Radio: Notre Dame Basketball Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland (Notre Dame ‘09); also available on the Notre Dame app
Florida State Seminoles (21-6 9-5 ACC)
The Florida State Seminoles are a balanced, defense-oriented squad that’s been able to find a lot of success this year despite not really having a go-to-guy or star to lean on throughout the season (they’ve had 9 different players lead the team in scoring during a game this year).
With an overall record of 21-6 and a 9-5 ACC showing so far (good for 5th in the ACC), the Seminoles are a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. Their resume includes impressive wins over the LSU Tigers, Purdue Boilermakers, Syracuse Orange, and Louisville Cardinals, and if not for a rough stretch in January where they followed a nail-biter loss to the Duke Blue Devils with losses to a couple ACC bottom-feeders in the Pittsburgh Panthers and Boston College Eagles, their resume would be sparkling, considering their only other losses have been to the Villanova Wildcats, Virginia Cavaliers, and North Carolina Tar Heels. It’s no surprise they have a top-35 strength of schedule ranking, according to KenPom (#32, to be precise).
FSU is 17th overall in KenPom’s rankings, with their highest rating coming on defense (#14 nationally). That’s not a major shock to anyone who’s watched Leonard Hamilton’s team play — either this year or in years past — as the Seminoles sport their typical lineup full of long, athletic guys who may not all be super polished but who all can get up and down the floor and make plays.
The group is led by 6’10” sophomore forward Mfiondu Kabengele, whose 13.2 points pace the team in the scoring category. With his size, he’s able to also add 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game to the table, and is a very efficient scorer, making 53% of his shots overall, 77% of his free throws, and 41% of his three pointers.
The #2 and #3 scorers for FSU are names most Irish fans will recognize at this point, as 6’7” senior Terance Mann and 6’4” junior Trent Forrest are a couple athletic, experienced guards who have been contributing since they got there.
Mann averages 11.7 points per game to go along with 6.4 rebounds, and has been a lights-out shooter this season, making 52% overall from the field, 79% from the line, and a ridiculous 47% from long range.
Forrest, meanwhile, is not nearly the shooter that Mann is. He averages 9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while also dishing out and snaring a team-leading 3.8 assists and 2 steals per game, respectively. Forrest shoots an abysmal 15% from three, but makes up for it with his ability to score at the rim.
Other perimeter guys to watch out for include 6’5” sophomore M.J. Walker (7.7 ppg, 34% 3FG), 6’4” senior P.J. Savoy (6.7 ppg, 31% 3FG), and 6’1” senior David Nichols (6.7 ppg, 36% 3FG).
Another couple familiar names for Irish fans are a couple more big dudes down low as 6’8” senior forward Phil Cofer and 7’4” senior center Christ Koumadje roam the paint making plays.
Cofer averages 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, and can also knock down threes, considering he shoots 37% from out there. Koumadje, meanwhile, is still as huge and imposing as ever at the rim, and he’s averaging a very solid 6.7 points, 5.7 rebound, and 1.6 blocks per game while also making 61% of his shots. Needless to say, he can be a monster down there.
Seminole to Watch
Mfiondu Kabengele, Forward, Sophomore
Florida State’s length, athleticism, and veteran composition are going to be incredibly tough for Notre Dame to deal with, and because of all the weapons they have, I think Kabengele’s height and ability to score from anywhere will be killer as the Irish have no answer for the near-7-footer who can knock down threes at a 41% clip. Look for Kabengele to get mismatches all night and score himself some points.
John Mooney, Forward, Senior
Florida State has so much height and bulk, it will be CRITICAL for ND to fight well on the boards and limit second chances. Unfortunately, that effort essentially starts and ends with John Mooney, so he’s going to have to have one of his patented 19-and-16 games for the Irish to hang around in this one.
Florida State has too much length and height and athleticism for this putrid ND offense to make any noise — especially on the road. Look for FSU to overpower the Irish from the beginning and for the Seminoles to roll in the second half.
Florida State wins this one 74-58.