The No. 8 Florida State Seminoles take on the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils tonight in college basketball’s most famous bandbox, Cameron Indoor Stadium. The winner will still be a game behind Louisville for top spot in the conference, but it will also keep them on a path to a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they can keep the momentum going in February.
The loser will still on the protected top four lines, but might have to mix in a road jersey before they get to New Orleans. Let’s break down the huge matchup here.
Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming
Florida State-Duke will be live on ESPN at 7:00 p.m ET. It’s also available on the ESPN app with a cable subscription.
Records & Rankings
FSU: 20-3, 10-2 ACC, 13 NET, 19 KenPom
Duke: 20-3, 10-2 ACC, 6 NET, 3 KenPom
Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends
Spread: Duke -8 (opened -8.5)
Total: 145 (opened 148.5)
Money line: Duke -385
We all know what happened last time out for Duke. To beat your most hated rival in such dramatic fashion has to feel terrific, but does leave the potential for an emotional letdown your next time out just 48 hours later. But questions about the mental toughness and game-closing of Coach K’s bunch, sometimes a bugaboo for the Durham Empire, got answered in the Dean Dome Saturday night.
Tre Jones is an elite college player, and the Devils are top 12 in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency per possession in college basketball. And a lot of that defense revolves around big man Vernon Carey, averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, who we hope is enjoying his last two months of college before being a lottery pick. They’ve got balance, and when they shoot it well from outside they’re pretty unbeatable.
On the other end Florida State is a vintage Leonard Hamilton team. They play defense, then they guard you, then they play even more defense, and then the student managers come off the bench and pick you up at half-court. They create a turnover on one of every four opponent possessions, they block a shot in 17.2% of possessions to lead the nation, and and they get a live ball turnover once every eight possessions. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s been brutally effective for a decade in Tallahassee.
They’ll lean heavily on senior guard Trent Forrest to keep things calm amongst the Cameron Crazies, but their defense translates on the road more nights than it doesn’t (Virginia being the exception that proves the rule).
The Pick: FSU +8
The ‘Noles shouldn’t really be catching eight against anyone that doesn’t have a three-color Jerry West logo on their jersey. It’s just too many points for a team that can get turnovers, limit possessions, and plays well in close contests. With no injury concerns on either side, this ends up being a one-possession game in the last couple minutes more often than it isn’t.
Devils win, Noles cover.
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