FSU Basketball: NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament Preview

Here is a preview for FSU basketball and their upcoming games in the 2016 NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament. 

Finally, the moment is here for Florida State men’s basketball. A chance to prove themselves against legitimate competition. Winthrop was supposed to be their first tough test but without Keon Johnson, they didn’t really stand a chance against the Seminoles.

By the way, after losing to Florida State, Winthrop went out and beat previously undefeated Illinois on the road. Johnson was back, and he scored 38 points against the Illini’ in what some are discussing as the best performance in school history. Solid early boost for FSU’s RPI.

Looking forward, this week’s tournament provides FSU basketball with an opportunity for a pair of solid resume-building wins, as we preview the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament.

The Last Time The ‘Noles Took The Court

On Sunday, Florida State basketball defeated the Detroit Mercy Titans 100-71. It was the second game in a row that the Seminoles scored 100 points, something that hadn’t occurred since 1996. It was a great performance against a team that may have a tough year ahead of them.

If you want to read more about that contest, or the one against Winthrop, please direct yourself right over here. However, we have a couple upcoming games to talk about, so let’s get right to it.

Opponent Preview

First up for Florida State is a match-up against the Temple Owls of the American Athletic Conference.

Coming into the year, the Owls were picked to finish 6th in the AAC as voted by the media before the season. They seem to be playing to their expectations, as they are 2-2 with wins versus La Salle and Manhattan, and losses coming to New Hampshire and UMass. They have all the makings of a middling team in a non-Power Six conference.

The Owls lost various key players from their 2015-2016 team, a team that was able to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. They have also been without senior point guard Josh Brown, who is still returning from an Achilles injury he suffered in May.

They did however return 6’10” forward Obi Enechionya. The versatile big man averaged 11 points per game last season. Enechionya is expected to carry the load for Temple, and thus far has not disappointed. On the year, he is averaging 20.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, to go along with 1.8 blocks per game. Not only that, but he is also shooting 51 percent from the floor, and making half of his three point attempts. Basically, he is the total package.

Phil Cofer’s health will be important, as he is the kind of player who could slow down a big man like Enechionya.

Another player to keep an eye out for is sophomore point guard Shizz Alston Jr. He struggles shooting the ball, but he is a player who can break you down and get to the rim. Alston Jr. is averaging almost 12 points per contest, to go along with four rebounds and 5.3 assists.

Temple is a team that struggles to score the ball, ranking 214th in the country at 1.035 points-per-possession (PPP). As a team, they shoot a meager 43 percent from the field, and 32 percent from deep. If Florida State plays with good effort and focus defensively, they should be able to handle the Owls.

The Seminoles are favored by -11.5 according to Odds Shark.

After That?

Win or lose versus Temple today, Florida State plays another game tomorrow. They’ll either be in the winners bracket against whoever comes out victorious between Illinois and #19 West Virginia, or in the losers bracket against whoever should fall.

Most expect the final to be a match-up between the Mountaineers and the Seminoles, but as we all know, college basketball is crazy and anything could happen.

West Virginia is a team that was picked to finish second in the Big 12 by the coaches, but the vote was extremely tight. There wasn’t much separation between the second place Mountaineers and the fifth place Baylor Bears.

The Mountaineers lack star power, but they do boast a well-balanced attack. They have five players who average double digits scoring, led by Nathan Adrian at 13.3 points per game. Bob Huggins is one of the best coaches in the country, and he has his team playing excellent basketball, especially on the offensive end.

West Virginia ranks 17th in the country at 1.25 PPP. Their 98 points per contest ranks fifth. However, one can question about the quality of WVU’s schedule thus far. The combined records of their opponents currently sits at a paltry 3-11. These upcoming games will answer whether the Mountaineers are legit or not.

Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, Illinois just lost to Winthrop. They sit at 4-1 on the year, having faced a fairly easy slate of games (8-9 combined record for their opponents). Senior guard Malcolm Hill is one of the most exciting players in the country. He’s averaging 21 points, 7.8 rebounds and almost two assists per contest. He’s very efficient too, shooting 49 percent from three and 84 percent from the foul line. Many believe head coach John Groce is on the heat seat, and needs a big year to keep his job. (Losing to Winthrop at home probably didn’t help matters).

Florida State needs to at least split these upcoming games, preferably without losing to Temple. A win against Temple and a loss to West Virginia would not be a bad outcome at all.

The Seminoles haven’t won one of these preseason tournaments since winning the 2009 Old Spice Classic against Marquette. Beating Temple and either Illinois or West Virginia would go a long way in getting the fan base to buy in, especially after these last four disappointing seasons.

How To Watch

Not much history between Temple and Florida State, so no interesting facts this week.

The game will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Tip-off is at 12:30 PM, and you can watch it on ESPNU (finally, a game on TV).

If Florida State wins, they will play in the final, which would be at 3 PM tomorrow, on ESPN2. Should they lose against Temple, they will play in the 3rd place game, which is at 12:30 PM, also tomorrow, but on ESPNU.

Big pair of games coming up, so tune in and support your ‘Noles.

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