Florida State vs. NC State preview: We meet again, Ham

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

FSU @ StatSheet
2014 Stats
2014 Roster
2014 Schedule

Florida State Offense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 52.8 50
Turnover Rate 22.0 328
Off Reb Rate 35.4 64
FT Rate
42.2 139

If NC State wants to make a serious push for the NCAAs, this is a game it's gotta have. The Wolfpack has already whiffed badly on three potential quality wins in conference play (Pitt, UVA, Duke), and after the game against Florida State, there is only one more home game for the Pack against teams in the top 75 of the Pomeroy Ratings. One. Opportunities are few and they won't get much better than this. Unfortunately, this game is destined to be played in front of about 1,000 people, but we don't make the weather, dammit!

The Seminoles have a ton of size and an offense that is one of Leonard Hamilton's best, even if it is all over the damn place. FSU is dead last in league play in turnover percentage--this is the Seminoles' exceptionally glaring weakness. NC State is going to need some takeaways to win, because FSU is shooting well inside and out and leveraging its size to create second chances. Turnovers make all of that irrelevant.

Between what FSU can do when it isn't turning the ball over and its Hamilton-given ability to defend, this one has the potential to be painful. The timing is good, at least--this will help the Pack prepare for the Big McLargeHuges on the horizon in Chapel Hill.

Starters

Devon Bookert (6-3, 185) -- Bookert might need to start hunting shots from deep more often. He finished last season 32-of-61 from three, and he's shooting better than 40% from beyond the arc this year. His assist rate is solid, but his turnover rate is not ideal. I could say the latter about pretty much everybody on the roster.

Montay Brandon (6-7, 216) -- I'll go ahead and nominate this dude for Quinton-Stephens-of-the-game honors. He is not shooting well in any area but shoots often enough that if he gets enough wide open opportunities, a career game is possible.

Okaro White (6-9, 204) -- Love this guy. He's refined his offensive game, and he remains an outstanding free throw shooter. He rebounds well at both ends and he'll discourage a shot or three if he's in a position to do so.

Robert Gilchrist (6-9, 220) -- If there isn't already a support group for regrettably poor free throw shooters, Gilchrist and Lennard Freeman should get together and form one. Gilchrist is 7-of-27 from the stripe in his career; the good news for FSU is that he doesn't factor heavily into the offense and doesn't draw a lot of fouls.

Boris Bojanovsky (7-3, 240) -- What's that, you want more tall people? Ham is here to provide. Bojanovsky is an elite shot blocker and he's scoring efficiently in a secondary role, but man is his defensive rebounding bad for a gentleman that tall. Is there some sort of height-agility index we could use to determine if there's a point at which being huge no longer makes much difference in defensive rebounding?

Bench

Ian Miller (6-3, 198), Aaron Thomas (6-5, 195), Michael Ojo (7-1, 292). FSU is aberrant in that its top two scorers are coming almost exclusively off the bench--Miller and Thomas lead the team with averages of 13.1 and 12.5 points per game, but they have just one start between them.

Miller has a workload well above average, but that's in line with the rest of his career. It's more apparent now because he's, you know, getting more minutes. His outside shooting is still iffy (but not bad), though he's been able to turn a corner in his usefulness with increased accuracy inside the arc. His track record suggests that's unsustainable.

Thomas has quietly made significant strides, which might be how Hamilton likes it. His shooting accuracy has improved from two, three, and at the free throw line despite an increased burden at the offensive end. He is also 81st nationally in steal percentage.

Florida State Defense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 42.3 2
Turnover Rate 20.0 81
Off Reb Rate 36.3 320
FT Rate
38.7 135

In four of the last five seasons, Florida State has finished in the top 15 in 2FG% defense. The Seminoles haven't finished outside the top 25 in block percentage since 2009. In part because they try to alter so many shots, they have been mediocre or worse on the defensive glass during Hamilton's tenure. This year, like last year, they are among the worst in the nation.

That's the hole; that's where you can gain a bit in the margins. Those second chances often aren't enough, however; Florida State forces so many turnovers and errant shots that offensive rebounds become something of a side show. This will be an interesting test for the Pack's young front court, not to mention Cat Barber and Dez Lee, who are prone to attacking the rim in ways that end in tragedy.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes FSU by five.

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