Florida State: ACC Outlook
Record to date: 9-5
Strength so far: Dominant defense. Pretty much all aspects of Florida State’s defense are excellent: turnover percentage forced (23.4%, 54th), three-point defense (27.4%, 13th), two-point percentage (41%, 13th) and block percentage (19.4%, 5th). FSU has harassed eight opponents to one of their three worst offensive efficiency performances of the year. Five opponents (including Central Florida at Harvard) have had their worst offensive day against the Seminoles. FSU’s defense is so good that if they can just be a little bit better offensively, they could still finish third in the ACC.
Needs improvement: BALL SECURITY. STOP TURNING IT OVER. The Seminoles lead the ACC in loss of ball (21.6%). FSU is essentially going without a shot attempt on over a fifth of their possessions. For a struggling offense, that’s far too often. Their low mark in turnovers this season is 15. All but one ACC team (Georgia Tech at 15.1) AVERAGES fewer turnovers than that. They will literally throw away chances to win ACC games if they continue to turn it over anywhere close to this rate.
Most important player: Michael Snaer. He’s had an up-and-down year, but since the junior’s disappearing act at Florida (a season-low five points), he has averaged 21.0 points on 52% shooting. He’s shooting just 41% for the season (34% from three) and averaging 13.6 points but he’s capable of averaging more, as he has shown. Against Auburn, he set a new career high with 22 points (on just nine shots). He is leading the team with 50 free throw attempts; Snaer’s free-throw percentage has improved from 66% as a freshman to 78% as a sophomore and 90% this year.
Reason for optimism: Turnovers are slowing down. The Seminoles have been using a four-guard lineup recently, and it’s resulted in fewer turnovers so far (16.0 per game in the last two). With Ian Miller back to handle the ball, things can only get better from a turnover standpoint.
Reason for pessimism: Offensive woes. Even if they cut their turnovers down, the Seminoles are still prone to scoring droughts. In the loss to Princeton, FSU tied a season low in loss of ball percentage (16.8%) and still averaged just 0.77 points per possession. They put up 41 points against Harvad and 49 against Michigan State; they had just TEN first-half points at home against Princeton.
Surprising stat: This is FSU’s worst non-conference start since 2005 (8-5). From 2006-10, FSU was 57-11 in non-conference; six losses came to top-15 teams, seven to the top 50 and just two to 100 or below. In 2011 and 2012, FSU is a combined 18-9 with nine losses to teams ranked 50 or lower (two to teams 100 or lower).FSU has one top-100 non-conference win in the last two years (Baylor last year). The Seminoles’ best win this year was UMass (115).
Most likely wins (6): Maryland (1/17), @Wake (1/25), Ga. Tech (2/1), @BC (2/8), Miami (2/11), Clemson (3/4)
Most likely losses (3): @Duke (1/21), @NCST (2/18), @UVA (3/1)
Toss-ups (7): @Clemson (1/7), @Va. Tech (1/10), UNC (1/14), UVA (2/4), Va. Tech (2/16), Duke (2/23), @Miami (2/26)
Best-case scenario: 12-4
Worst-case scenario: 6-10