Florida State at Duke
Florida State (12-6, 3-1) at Duke (16-2, 4-0), 4:00 PM, ESPN/ESPN3
Florida State is flying sky-high right now after winning three straight games and not falling prey to the classic letdown scenario against Maryland. Duke is also feeling pretty good right now – the Blue Devils might look vulnerable, but they have gutted out some tough wins at home and on the road. Florida State has been all over the place this season and so it’s hard to predict how they will perform, but Duke has been fairly steady. Regardless of how close some of their wins have been, it has taken Herculean efforts to beat them this year (particularly offensively). And no one’s beaten them at home since 2009.
Stat to watch: The offensive glass. Florida State has improved offensively in terms of shooting percentage and scoring in ACC play, and a big reason for that is its offensive rebounding. With all of its athleticism and length, FSU was averaging just 13.3 offensive rebounds a game before league play started. Now, FSU is averaging 14.8 offensive boards per game despite making more shots. And Duke has struggled on the defensive glass in league play. Duke’s opponents were averaging 10.7 offensive rebounds before ACC play and have averaged 15 in league play. Duke did well on the offensive glass against Wake Forest but and have for much of the year, but FSU kept North Carolina off the offensive boards pretty well and could do the same again.
Most important players: Ian Miller, Florida State and Andre Dawkins, Duke. For Andre Dawkins, that’s two straight games now that the junior sharp-shooter has showed up. He’s has 44 points in the last two games on 14-of-25 shooting (12-of-21 from three). In the previous seven games combined, Dawkins had shot 16-of-47 (9-of-34 from three) and had 52 points. Duke could really use the Dawkins that had seven first-half three’s to show up all the time, because he makes them so much more dangerous. FSU’s Ian Miller showed why the offense runs better with him back with his season-high 18 points on just seven shots against Maryland. He’s shooting 42% in ACC play and averaging four free-throw attempts a game. He didn’t play against Duke last year in FSU’s upset win at home, but Derwin Kitchen did and he had 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He’s capable of getting to the basket and Duke’s guards have had trouble containing opposing point guards at times.
Random stat(s): Florida State was trailing on the scoreboard for 38:01 of its ACC opener against Clemson (out of 40 minutes). It had the lead in that game for 12 seconds. In its last three ACC games (120 minutes), it has trailed for a total of seven seconds. …. The last time Florida State has beaten North Carolina and Duke in the same season was 2002. Of course, North Carolina was historically awful that year but Duke was No. 1. Florida State has beaten one of the two schools in six of ten seasons under Leonard Hamilton; the worst either was ranked was eighth (Duke in Cameron Indoor in 2007).
Prediction: Duke 77, Florida State 66
Last week: 6-5
Season: 76-27 (15-8 ACC)