North Carolina stayed in the hunt for the ACC regular season title by taking down Duke on Wednesday with the help of Zion Williamson’s injury. Things don’t get much easier for the next Game as Florida State has quietly won its last eight and sits with the same 21-5 record as UNC. Of course, while the Seminoles are on a nice winning streak, none of those have been against the best teams in the Conference with Clemson and Louisville maybe being the toughest opponents.
In the only matchup between these teams, UNC gets the edge at home, while FSU is on the road for its third straight. That’s relevant because all losses but the Duke one have come on the road for the Seminoles. The other problem is that FSU’s length and depth, the advantage it has on most other teams, isn’t apparent in this Game. These teams match up fairly well in terms of size and depth and the edge goes to the one with the more prized recruits.
Florida State’s best chance will be down low between Mfiondu Kabengele and Christ Koumadje. Kabengele leads the Seminoles in scoring (13.4 ppg) while Koumadje has scored double digits in the last three Games, averaging 10 boards in the process. If those guys can get going in the paint, that’s an issue for UNC because Garrison Brooks and LUke Maye don’t exactly have the build to stop them from scoring.
The issue for FSU is trying to stop the rest of UNC with Cameron Johnson (16.7 ppg) and Coby White (15.4 ppg) both being able to have huge Games. It also doesn’t help that White struggled against Duke with just nine points, yet the Tar Heels still had no trouble reaching close to 90 points. When Cameron Johnson plays at the three, FSU doesn’t exactly have a good matchup with Terance Mann expected to start on him. And while the Seminoles have the size to limit White, he’s still a guy that can make things happen even when his shot isn’t falling. Nassir Little’s ongoing ankle injury could be a problem for this Game, especially if Maye has any trouble with a bigger lineup. It’ll be interesting to see how FSU defends Maye because that could be the key into limiting UNC’s offense. When FSU won last year’s meeting 81-80, Maye had just 14 points and six rebounds.
The biggest surprise for the Seminoles has maybe been their consistency on offense, which has been an issue throughout the years for this team. But with the bigs having success and a backcOurt that features an array of players in MJ Walker, Trent Forrest, PJ Savoy and Terance Mann, it’s not often easy to stop this group. To win this Game and have a chance, FSU’s defense has to step up because if UNC runs out to another 80-plus points, that’s not a good strategy to winning on the road. The Seminoles have played fairly fast in the conference, but that’s how UNC is built so it’s not how they should play, at least if they want to win.
Our Pick – NC -7