FSU Basketball Preview: vs. Notre Dame

Here is a preview for FSU basketball and their next game of the 2017 season against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

On Saturday, FSU basketball did something they hadn’t done in a over a month month and a half… they lost a game.

The Seminoles battled and hung around against the UNC Tar Heels, but couldn’t survive the final onslaught. The game ended 96-83 in Carolina’s favor, and with it, so did FSU’s 12-game win streak.

The outcome didn’t hurt Florida State anywhere but in the win-loss column. They only fell one spot in the polls. Their KenPom ranking is currently 17th, higher than it was this time last week. And the Seminoles’ RPI is now 10th-overall. All very healthy numbers.

Sadly, FSU’s schedule doesn’t let up quite yet. The Seminoles face two more teams ranked in the top-15 this week. But thankfully, both are within the friendly confines of the Donald L. Tucker Center.

The first of those opponents, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, arrives in Tallahassee with a 16-2 (5-0) record. (Pretty insane how tough the ACC is this season. But that’s life.) They’re ranked 15th in the AP, and have put together quite the solid resume thus far. We preview Florida State and Notre Dame.

Jan 14, 2017; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II (2) passes the ball as Florida State Seminoles guard Terance Mann (14) and Florida State Seminoles center Michael Ojo (50) and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) and forward Jonathan Isaac (1) defend in the first half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 14, 2017; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II (2) passes the ball as Florida State Seminoles guard Terance Mann (14) and Florida State Seminoles center Michael Ojo (50) and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) and forward Jonathan Isaac (1) defend in the first half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Last Time the ‘Noles Took the Court

The Seminoles and the Tar Heels played an entertaining 35 minutes of basketball. Entertaining, that is, if you like hearing the refs blow their whistle and completely ruin the flow of the game. Regardless, Florida State stuck around and answered every push made by UNC. They just couldn’t withstand the final blow.

Carolina’s trio of Joel Berry, Isaiah Hicks and Justin Jackson combined for 70 (!!!) points. FSU did what they could to slow them down, but it wasn’t enough. The three of them did a great job attacking the basket, and drawing fouls. They shot 28 free throws all together. The Seminoles were led by Jonathan Isaac who scored 17 and looked comfortable for the first time in a while. Dwayne Bacon scored 18 points on 16 shot attempts.

Opponent Preview

Notre Dame has surprised a lot of people this year. Though they suffered losses to attrition (either NBA or graduation), they’ve come back as strong as last season. They have a win against Louisville, and are coming off back-to-back victories at Miami, and at Virginia Tech. It’s fair to speculate whether they may run out of gas against Florida State, seeing as it’s their third road game in a row.

KenPom ranks the Irish as the 22nd best team in the country, with an elite offense (eighth) and a fairly mediocre defense (70th). They’re fourth in the country with 1.211 points-per-possession, and average 81 points a night. ND is led by junior forward Bonzie Colson (a guy Florida State heavily recruited). Colson is a tough, old-school type of big man, who scores 16 points on average, to go with 11 rebounds, a block, and a steal. He’s also an 87 percent free-throw shooter. Yeah, he’s good.

There’s also senior guard Steve Vasturia, averaging 15 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game. He’s a deadly shooter, who’s at 44 percent from three and 91 percent from the line. As a team, the Irish shoot 83 percent from the line (wow), so FSU’s defense will have to play hard but try to avoid fouling.

Florida State will have their hands full trying to slow down the Notre Dame offense. Thankfully, their defense isn’t anything special, so the ‘Noles offense should be able to shine. The Irish play a very slow tempo, that comes in at 277th possessions per outing. So for FSU to have success, they’ll have to try and speed them up a bit. Easier said than done, considering:

Point Spread/How to Watch

Vegas still likes FSU a whole lot, even despite their loss to the Tar Heels. The Seminoles opened up the game as -5 point favorites over the Irish (via Odds Shark). Look for them to try and bounce back and hand ND their first loss in ACC play.

For whatever reason, this game has been relegated to WatchESPN. I find it hard to believe that ESPN has had FSU hosting top-15 matchups in back-to-back weeks, and both times haven’t had it on one of their main channels. But so be it. There is a way to watch this game on TV, but only if you’re in Florida, and only if you can find out what channels serves as the ACC Network. Good luck with that, fellow ‘Nole fans. And as always, Go ‘Noles.

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