Big Monday brings us a matchup at the top of the ACC standings, as the no. 17 Florida State Seminoles host the no. 9 Virginia Cavaliers. Oddsmakers have this as a straight-up PK with an over/under of 130 points.
The Cavaliers are getting close to wrapping up the ACC regular-season title. Virginia is currently 15-3 overall and 11-1 in conference play. Tony Bennett’s team has bounced back from its only conference loss of the season to Virginia Tech, winning four in a row since falling to Virginia Tech.
As for the Seminoles, they were lucky to escape with an overtime win over Wake Forest on Saturday after having back-to-back games postponed due to COVID-related issues. The win took Florida State to 11-3 overall and 7-2 in ACC play, putting them 2.5 games behind Virginia. That makes Monday’s contest a must-win for the Seminoles if they hope to repeat as ACC regular-season champs.
Same Old Story
This year’s Florida State team is a classic Leonard Hamilton team in the sense that the Seminoles are one of the deepest and most athletic teams in the ACC. There are nine players on the roster who average at least 15 minutes per game. Hamilton often goes even deeper than that, allowing the Seminoles to rotate fresh bodies freely to keep their energy levels high and ride the hot hand offensively.
Of course, it’s a familiar face leading the way for FSU in M.J. Walker. The senior is averaging 13.7 points per game to lead the team while shooting 44.4% from the perimeter. Meanwhile, 6’9’’ freshman Scottie Barnes might be the most influential player on the Florida State roster. He has the body of a forward, but the skill set of a guard, helping him to average 10.5 points per game and lead the Seminoles in assists. The ‘Noles also have plenty of their patented size in the frontcourt with 7’1’’ center Balsa Koprivica and second-leading scorer Raiquan Gray.
Likewise, the Virginia frontcourt offers plenty of size and scoring. Marquette transfer Sam Hauser leads the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game. While the 6’8’’ forward has the size and strength to rebound and score inside, he does most of his damage on the perimeter, shooting nearly 44% from three-point range. Meanwhile, 7’1’’ Jay Huff is second to Hauser in both scoring and rebounding. He has the size to defend the paint but is an accomplished shooter on the offensive end, knocking down 47.3% of his three-point attempts.
That being said, the Cavs can get production from their backcourt with Kihei Clark and Trey Murphy. The diminutive Clark can be up and down as a scorer, but he does average 4.6 assists per game to keep the Virginia offense flowing. Murphy, meanwhile, gives Virginia another shooting threat. He averages 11.5 points per game thanks to a 48.8% shooting percentage from the perimeter.
Florida State had some rust to shake off over the weekend, but they should be ready for Monday’s game. The Seminoles have a variety of scorers and are one of the few teams that can come close to matching Virginia’s intensity on the defensive end. With a small crowd behind them at home, bet on Florida State to knock off Virginia at home.
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