Florida State at Boston College
Florida State (16-6, 7-1) at Boston College (7-16, 2-7), 7:00 PM, ESPN3
Florida State should cruise through this one, leaving North Carolina to have to beat Duke at 9:00 to keep pace. But the Seminoles should use this as a chance to hone their offense in a road arena that has been a bit tricky for ACC foes so far. Boston College is 2-3 at home in league play but the best percentage the Eagles have allowed is 44.1% (Wake Forest) and the most points were 76 (Miami). Taking out that thumping by the Hurricanes (a 22-point loss), BC has been outscored by an average of 4.5 points per game at home. But BC is just trying to get better with every game at this point, win or lose. By that metric, they’ve probably “won” anywhere between 4-5 ACC games with how well they’ve played at times in some of them. FSU needs to focus, but the Seminoles should win.
Stat to watch: Turnovers. Florida State had cut its turnovers way down (23 in a three-game stretch including Maryland, Duke and Wake) but the turnover bug came back to bite them against Virginia. The Seminoles committed 19 turnovers in a low-possession game (an ACC season-high 26% loss of ball) against Virginia. They had 11 in the first half and had committed 16 in the first 29:38 of game action. But in the final 10:22, they had just three more and that’s a big reason they pulled away so much it necessitated a big Virginia comeback late. Still, FSU has to get back to being as careful with the ball as they had been. Boston College doesn’t force a lot of turnovers, but taking out their blowout home losses (Miami and Wake Forest) the Eagles have forced a 19.5% loss of ball at home.
Florida State also forces a ton of turnovers, and Virginia had 20 (a 28.6% loss of ball), which was why FSU’s turnover-ridden effort didn’t matter as much. The Seminoles have forced ACC opponents into an insane 21.4% loss of ball. Only three teams – Duke, Virginia Tech and Clemson – have kept their turnovers down against FSU, and it’s no coincidence that Clemson beat them and Duke and Virginia Tech were two of FSU’s closer wins. Boston College has a 21.9% loss of ball in ACC games, and they’ve tried to slow down the tempo to cut down on some of that. By the numbers, they have – just 26 turnovers in the last two games – but their loss of ball is still high (19.5%). If BC can keep the pace down and avoid turnovers, they’ll have a chance to keep it close.
Most important players: Matt Humphrey, Boston College and Ian Miller, Florida State. After Florida State’s Ian Miller had double figures in five of his first seven games back for Florida State, it looked like he was going to be a huge factor for the Seminoles. He also had 16 rebounds and 14 steals in that span, attempting 28 foul shots (4.0 per game) as well. And he still could be a factor, but in the last four games, he has a total of 15 points (3.8 per game) on 6-of-28 shooting (3-of-11 from three) and he has been to the foul line just once. Florida State is obviously getting on just fine without him contributing offensively, but they could really use the spark he gave him when he first came back to the lineup.
For BC, Matt Humphrey has certainly been a bright spot as the junior transfer has improved in ACC play. He was always a scorer, but now his percentages are is up from 30% to 42% in ACC play (28.9% from three in non-conference and 36% in ACC play). He’s averaging more points (10.8) than he did out of conference (9.6) and his rebounds have gone up as well from 2.9 to 4.4. He went through a bit of a four-game rough patch in league play but in BC’s last two games – both narrow losses – he has averaged 15 points on 12-of-24 shooting (6-of-14 from three) and added three assists in 75 minutes. Boston College fans are pleased, too. From the blog BC Interruption:
Matt Humphrey kept BC in the (Georgia Tech) game, both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. He showed that veteran leadership that BC sorely needed in a game that could have easily have slipped away from the Eagles. He hustled for loose balls, made aggressive cuts in the lane and made key shots in big situations. This was easily Humphrey’s best game in the maroon and gold.
Random stat: From the Boston College game notes, Boston College has three freshmen that average 9.0 points or more a game. Kentucky is the only other team in the country with three freshmen averaging 9.0 or more. Because I know when I think about Boston College basketball, I think about Kentucky.
Prediction: Florida State 66, Boston College 57
Last week: 10-2
Season: 100-34 (36-15 ACC)