College Basketball Pick
The ACC is loaded this season and these two teams are part of the reason for that sentiment. Florida State wasn’t expected to be an elite team and Notre Dame was expected to struggle after losing multiple starters. The Seminoles are still fighting for the regular season ACC crown, but the Fighting Irish have dropped off since a hot start and have lost Four of their last five.
These teams met in the middle of January, and while Notre Dame kept it close most of the way and actually led with about seven minutes to go, couldn’t hold on as FSU won 83-80 in Tallahassee. The ‘Noles have been hit-or-miss this season on the road, already with double-digit losses at UNC, Georgia Tech and Syracuse, while dismantling Miami by 18 points in their last road Game. Notre Dame has been good at home, but lost to elite teams like Virginia and Duke in recent Games in South Bend. Considering how close the last one was, this is expected to be more of the same.
That said, it can’t be overlooked that Notre Dame stayed in the Game solely because of a ridiculous night from behind the arc as they went 15-of-21. Funny enough, the Irish were just 12-of-37 from two-point range. Both teams turned it over a ton in that first meeting (Notre Dame 18, FSU 16), while the Seminoles dominated inside the arc with 11 blocks, seven from Jonathan Isaac. And Isaac had his way in that Game, in more than just blocks as he led all scoring with 23 points and 10 boards. Notre Dame actually used center Martinas Geben a decent amount in that Game (15 minutes), but he hasn’t surpassed 10 minutes in the last Four since that loss.
Whether it was VJ Beachem or Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame just didn’t have an answer for Isaac, who has size and length, but is also a guy that can stretch the floor. It’ll be interesting to see what the Irish do against him this Game. Surprisingly, Notre Dame held Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes mostly in check, but it was Jarquez Smith, CJ Walker and PJ Savoy off the bench that made a bigger difference. If that happens again, one would assume that FSU wins, but the Seminoles haven’t gotten that kind of bench production on the road this season.
To have a better shot of winning this Game, Notre Dame will undoubtedly have to shoot better closer to the hoop and that’s mainly for Bonzie Colson, who only had nine points. Colson had trouble with FSU’s length in that first Game and he leads the Irish in scoring for a reason. When he can score, that usually opens up shots on the perimeter from the likes of Matt Farrell, Steve Vasturia and Beachem. since a couple losses, the Seminoles have returned to their elite levels in recent wins, which doesn’t help Notre Dame. To win, the Irish will need to limit what Isaac can do on both ends of the floor and get more from Colson, as well. It’s likely this will be close throughout, but the Irish can’t win if Colson doesn’t reach his scoring average (16.1 ppg).
Our pick – Florida St pk