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Notre Dame

vs.

Florida State

College Basketball Pick

1/18/17

Florida State finally lost over the weekend, ending its 12-game winning streak, but it wasn't all that surprising at North Carolina. The Seminoles are back at home with another difficult game against a Notre Dame team that still hasn't lost in ACC play despite having three road games.

Of course, the Fighting Irish haven't won any of their conference games convincingly, winning them all by seven points or less. Their three road games were against middle-of-the-pack teams, not one near the top of the standings like Florida State. This will probably be Notre Dame's toughest ACC test yet, so we'll see just how good they are.

FSU hasn't had any issues at home, winning all three ACC home games by at least 15 points, with two of those coming against Duke and a ranked Virginia Tech team. When these teams met late last year, it was one of those home beatings by the 'Noles, winning 77-56. And the same problems are there for Notre Dame in this game. They have no one to stop Dwayne Bacon, who scored 21 points in that game. Bacon leads the Seminoles in scoring by a good margin and usually capitalizes on favorable matchups. In this one, he'll likely draw either Steve Vasturia or VJ Beachem. Both can be good defenders, but dealing with Bacon will be difficult, as he has more size and strength.

The best thing for Notre Dame is that this is yet another team without a great low-post presence, something that the Irish lack themselves. With Bonzie Colson as their big at a thick 6'5", he's averaging 15.8 points and 10.9 boards per game. Jonathan Isaac (12.5 ppg, 7.5 reb) is a good freshman for FSU, but he doesn't really have the ability to take advantage of Colson's size. The advantage for the Seminoles is that they have a deep team with a number of players that can go off. That was seen only a week ago when Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 21 points against Duke; he has just 10 points combined in the games before and after that one. Terance Mann fits that bill as well after scoring 21 against Virginia Tech.

That depth could be key against a Notre Dame team that only has four guys averaging more than 5.2 points per game. Colson, Vasturia, Farrell and Beachem are all consistent, which is why the Irish are undefeated in conference play, but to win a game like this, others like Rex Plfueger and Temple Gibbs have to step up. That's how they got road wins at Miami and Virginia Tech, but Florida State presents a tougher matchup.

Much like Notre Dame's previous five conference games, this one will likely be decided in the final few minutes. The Seminoles have the length and slightly more athleticism, which could be the difference along with playing at home. The Irish don't have anyone that can cancel out Bacon, and that should leave Florida State with a win and the two tied atop the ACC standings.

Our Pick - Florida State by 6

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