The North Carolina Tar Heels try to make it four straight wins when they visit the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday. North Carolina (8-4, 3-2 ACC) dropped its first two ACC contests this season but have won their last three, including a six-point victory over Syracuse on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Florida State (6-2, 2-1) finally got back on the court on Wednesday after three postponements and looked pretty good, routing NC State, 105-73. The win was the Seminoles’ first game since Dec. 29.
North Carolina has dominated the series with the Seminoles, holding a 50-14 advantage, including a 17-7 mark in Tallahassee. The Tar Heels have won eight of the last 10 meetings in the series.
For those doing online betting, North Carolina is a 3.5-point favorite in this one.
The Tar Heels have a great deal of size on their roster, which is good, considering how bad the team is shooting from beyond the three-point arc. North Carolina’s 29.3 percent shooting from three-point range ranks 14th in the 15-team ACC.
Roy Williams’ squad does lead the conference in rebounding, though, with 45.1 per game. That includes 16.6 offensive boards per game, which also paces the ACC and the nation. Against Syracuse, North Carolina grabbed a season-high 24 offensive rebounds that led to 24 second-chance points.
Garrison Brooks (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Armando Bacot (15, 12) both notched double-doubles in the win. Bacot, a 6-10 sophomore forward/center, leads the Tar Heels with 11.3 points and eight rebounds per game, shooting 62.8 percent from the field.
Brooks, a 6-10 senior forward, is next with 10.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. Third on the team in scoring is 6-11 freshman forward/center Day’Ron Sharpe, who is averaging 9.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. As we said, the Tar Heels have some height.
But if the Tar Heels want to return to NCAA March Madness, they must improve on their turnovers, as they’re averaging 15.5 per game. The Seminoles are going to put pressure on the North Carolina guards, who will have to be able to stand up to it if the Tar Heels are going to win this one.
The Seminoles had an unwanted break for the New Year, going two weeks without a contest. But Florida State made up for lost time with the win over NC State, making college basketball news by putting up their highest point total against an ACC opponent since 2017 and shooting a school-record 70.7 percent from the floor.
Senior guard M.J. Walker scored 19 points in the win, and he leads the Seminoles in scoring with 15.8 points per game. Walker is shooting 41.5 percent from three-point range, one of four players shooting 40 percent or better from beyond the arc for Florida State, which leads the ACC in three-point percentage at .372.
Scottie Barnes, a 6-9 freshman guard, is scoring 11.1 points, dishing out 4.1 assists and recording 1.5 steals per contest. Anthony Polite, a 6-6 junior guard, is the third Seminoles player averaging in double figures in scoring with 10.1 points per game.
The Seminoles average nearly nine fewer rebounds per game than the Tar Heels, with 6-8 junior forward RaiQuan Gray leading the way with 5.6 per contest. Florida State will have to send nearly everyone to the boards to make sure the Tar Heels don’t dominate the offensive glass.
Seminoles In A Squeaker
The Tar Heels can dominate most teams up front, but it’s the perimeter where they have their troubles. The Seminoles will be putting a lot of pressure on the North Carolina guards, trying to create turnovers that lead to easy fast-break baskets.
If the Tar Heels can turn this into a halfcourt game, they can use their size to make things difficult for the Seminoles. But they have to be able to guard the perimeter, which might force Williams to go smaller than he usually does.
Florida State looked very fresh and focused in their win over NC State. We’re going to guess that continues in this one. When making your college basketball picks, take the Seminoles to not just cover but win this game outright.