More eyeballs will be on this Game simply because future NBA lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. will be playing. Otherwise, it’s a ho-hum 8-9 matchup between two teams that have been mediocre most of the season. The Seminoles were -1 point favorites as of Tuesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Nashville.
Florida State opened the season with nine-straight wins, although there was still some trepidation about the team even with a win at Florida. That showed up in the ACC season as it only won two on the road and then dropped to Louisville in its first Conference Tourney Game. The Seminoles have some quality wins at home (UNC, Miami) with Florida, Louisville and Virginia Tech being their best on the road. Of course, they also lost at Boston College and Wake Forest.
It wasn’t much different for Missouri with a couple nice home wins against Kentucky and Tennessee to go with a road win at Alabama, but a home loss to Ole Miss and on a neutral cOurt against Illinois give some questions. In Michael Porter’s first full Game of the season, the Tigers fell to Georgia in the SEC Tourney opener, almost the exact situation as FSU.
As expected, both teams are mediocre on both ends of the cOurt. Florida State ranks much better offensively than defensively, yet still doesn’t shoot well from distance. Missouri is better defensively and bases a lot of its offense on threes, which could come in handy in this Game. The Seminoles finished near the bottom of the ACC rankings and allowed more than 40 percent from deep.
Before going any further, it’s important to know one of Missouri’s better players and shooters, Jordan Barnett (13.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg), is suspended after getting arrested for DWI. It’s expected Michael Porter will move into the starting lineup and the jury is still out on him after missing almost three months of basketball activity. That said, the Tigers still have numerous guys that will shoot from deep with Kassius Robertson and Jontay Porter leading the way. Michael Porter is another big that can step out and hit shots, which will make matchups interesting.
If the two Porters start in the frontcOurt, it will be hard for Florida State to roll with its 7-footers in Ike Obiagu and Christ Koumadje. Both of them would have trouble defending the three, which means the Seminoles may be forced to play small ball with Phil Cofer. Yet if that’s the case, they’ll be giving up a few inches against both of the Porters. But without Barnett, there’s no guarantee to how Missouri’s offense will look. Robertson leads the team in scoring and he’s almost exclusively a three-point shooter. The Tigers may need point guard Jordan Geist to do a little more with the ball to set up guys outside or in the post.
As for the Seminoles, their offense can be ugly at times with only three guys averaging double figures and none of them over 13.2 points (Terance Mann). Phil Cofer is the guy that needs to be accounted for because he’s a stretch big man, similar to the Porters. If Cofer gets open looks, FSU will have the advantage as that will open up everything else for Mann, Braian Angola and the rest.
The biggest outlier is Florida State’s defense, which really struggled in Conference play, especially away from home. If the ‘Noles can’t play tight defense against Robertson and the Porters, they could be in trouble. Then again, betting on a team without one of its top scorers is worrisome. Still, the Tigers should get plenty of money anyway due to Michael Porter on the squad.
Our Pick – Missouri +1