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NC State takes another crack at ending its losing streak, this time against FSU

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Basketball again?! There’s more???

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

Florida State’s run over the last five years is one that just about any program would envy: five NCAA trips with three runs to the Sweet Sixteen and one to the Elite Eight. The Seminoles became a mainstay near the top of the ACC standings during that time.

But everybody’s got to go through a bit of a rebuild every now and then. FSU lost its top three scorers from a year ago, and Leonard Hamilton is working with a lineup that features several (highly-ranked) freshmen and some transfers. The transition has not been seamless.

Florida State 2021-22

... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 106.9 (75) 51.9 (91) 19.6 (215) 33.1 (59) 27.7 (227)
Defense 91.3 (29) 48.1 (117) 24.9 (15) 31.8 (287) 28.5 (161)

FSU is currently 39th in the Pomeroy Ratings but sports an underwhelming 6-4 record, with double-digit road losses to Florida and Purdue, as well as moderately head-scratching close losses to Syracuse and South Carolina.

The Noles have as much size as we’ve all come to expect from them and generally they’ve played excellent defense this season, but their offense is well off the pace of the last handful of seasons.

They’re worse from two, three, and the free throw line than they were last year, and they have been a bit worse at grabbing offensive boards and drawing fouls. They are turnover-prone, which is also something we’ve come to expect from them, but with fewer ways to mitigate that problem.

FSU’s top three scorers are also the only three guys to start every game this year: Houston transfer guard Caleb Mills, wing Anthony Polite, and forward Malik Osborne.

Mills has done well in becoming more of a distributor in his time with the Seminoles, and he’s a solid jump shooter, but his ability to finish efficiently inside the arc is iffy. Polite is assuming a larger role in the offense than he ever has before, for better or worse: he’s been better at creating offense off the dribble, but his outside shot has suffered and his turnover rate is up.

Osborne has been nothing short of fantastic: 59% inside the arc, 50% from three, 80% at the free throw line, But he’s only taking about 16% of the shots while he is on the court, which is in line with his career usage, but is probably a fair bit lower than what this current FSU team needs.

The Noles have Mills (47.3 eFG%) and star freshman Matthew Cleveland (46.2 eFG%) combining to attempt 54% of FSU’s shots while they are on the floor together. Shifting a few of those shots to the big fella might go a long way for the offense as a whole. Osborne is an elite rebounder, takes great care of the ball, and he’s been among the nation’s best at getting to the free throw line.

At the other end, FSU has been about the same as it ever was. Four seven-footers have logged minutes for the Noles this season, and this will come as extremely unsurprising news: FSU is the tallest team by average height in D-I basketball.

The Seminoles have been highly disruptive both in terms of blocking shots and generating steals. FSU opponents usually settle for a lot of three-pointers. Zone defense is not necessary when simple coercion through stature can get the job done. Do I want to go in there, among those tall, scary people, or do I want to shoot a bad jump shot instead, where it’s safe? I know my answer.

Anyway, don’t be surprised if NC State goes like 8-35 from three. FSU seems like the worst possible matchup for the Wolfpack. (But KenPom only likes FSU by four!)