Maryland at Florida State
Maryland (12-4, 2-1) at Florida State (11-6, 2-1), 9:00 PM, ESPNU
Logic would indicate that a newly-confident Florida State team coming off of a throttling of No. 3 North Carolina would similarly dispatch a Maryland team that is just mediocre. But ACC teams don’t follow logic. If FSU wants to build on that win and show they can be consistent (and a top-three ACC team) they need to win and win handily, particularly with a trip to Duke on Saturday coming up. Maryland had its best defensive game of the year in a win over Georgia Tech on Sunday, but it is entering a treacherous slate. The Terps travel to FSU and Temple, then host Duke and Virginia Tech. They won’t play a “bad” ACC team until hosting Boston College on February 16th. They have a chance to catch FSU in a letdown game.
Stat to watch: Turnovers. Maryland can’t force them, and Florida State can’t stop committing them. Florida State’s defense thrives on them, and Maryland’s offense doesn’t commit them. FSU’s opponents have outscored them in their six losses in points off turnovers, 95-67, despite FSU committing 101 turnovers and opponents committing 91. In FSU wins, FSU outscores opponents 215-160 off turnovers despite committing more (208) than their opponents (191). Ever since turning it over 26 times against Iona for a 30.2% loss of ball, Maryland has been much better. A big reason Maryland beat Georgia Tech was the Yellow Jackets had 16 turnovers, tied for the most by a Maryland opponent this year, but just five of those were Maryland steals. They need to capitalize on the FSU miscues that will inevitably happen. On the flip side, FSU will have to stay patient in their halfcourt defense if Maryland is taking care of the ball and force bad shots.
Most important players: Terrell Stoglin, Maryland and Michael Snaer, Florida State. If it’s possible for someone to have a quiet 17 points in a 33-point win over the No. 3 team in the country, Snaer did that on Saturday. He drove to the basket well, getting to the foul line eight times and hitting 4-of-6 two-pointers. He was the only Seminole cold from three-point range, seemingly (1-of-5). But he added five rebounds after having none in ACC play thus far to go with three assists (his most since November 30th). He has 10 or more points in ten of 16 games this year but his no-shows stick out, particularly when two have come in FSU losses.
(Side Note: I guess I could have picked Deividas Dulkys instead of Snaer, since he’s coming off of a 32-point performance. But he won’t crack 10 points tonight. Trust me.)
Since the loss at N.C. State, Stoglin has shot just 10-of-30 (5-of-16 from three) in the last two games. He’s getting to the line 6.8 times a game (5.0 in ACC play) but got there just three times against Georgia Tech. But after back-to-back games without an assist, he had two against Georgia Tech to go with a steal and five rebounds. HIs scoring has gone down steadily in league play as opposing defenses have improved, and the most comparable team defensively Maryland has faced to FSU is Alabama. He was 0-of-9 in that game (0-of-3 from three) and got all six of his points from the foul line. His 20.9 points are pretty much carrying Maryland’s offense at this point and if he can’t get going, FSU will win easily.
Random stat: After knocking off Duke or North Carolina (as a ranked opponent) since 2003, FSU is 2-4 in its next game. It’s been all over the map, too: in 2003, they went 0-2 after beating No. 5 Duke (losing to an NIT-bad Carolina team immediately after). In 2007, they beat No. 8 Duke in Cameron Indoor, then lost five straight. In 2006, they went 1-1 after beating No. 5 Duke, beating to Miami and losing to a bad Wake Forest team in the ACC Tournament. In 2009, after beating No. 1 North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, they lost their next two games (to Duke in the semi’s and Wisconsin in the the NCAA Tournament). In 2011, they beat No. 1 Duke at home and then won three in a row. And their win over Duke was nearly as inexplicable in terms of how they had looked; the Seminoles were nine days removed from losing to an awful Auburn team and having lost three of the four games prior to Duke.
*The 2005 season was the weirdest. FSU finished 12-19 (4-12 ACC) but knocked off two pretty good ACC teams back-to-back: Wake Forest (which finished 5th) and N.C. State (finished unranked, but was ranked until January). After beating State on the road, FSU lost 10 straight and 11 of its final 12 games.
Prediction: Maryland 71, Florida State 65. Just because it makes no sense.
Last week: 6-5
Season: 71-26 (10-7 ACC)