Miami at Florida State
Miami (15-7, 6-3) at Florida State (16-7, 7-2), 1:00 PM, ACC Network split/ESPN3
These two teams could not be coming into this game with more different feelings. Florida State is coming off of an absolutely inexplicable loss at Boston College on Wednesday, while Miami won its fifth straight ACC game against Virginia Tech at home, and won it handily. Still, this one is in Tallahassee and the Seminoles will be angry, especially considering how bad they were defensively. Miami has played very well even in some hostile environments, and if they want to continue to be a likely NCAA Tournament team, they’ll need to win at least one of their meetings with FSU.
Stat to watch: The three-point line. Miami’s offense has been humming along nicely lately, a big reason for their five-game winning streak. Michael Rogner at the Run the Floor blog diagrammed some of Miami’s offensive sets and what makes them so effective. And with Reggie Johnson’s emergence in the post (along with Kenny Kadji) double teams have opened up looks from three for the Hurricanes. The problem is, the Hurricanes aren’t generally knocking those down, making just 31% in ACC play and 29-of-92 (31.5%) in the last three games. While Florida State has been allowing better shooting as of late (24-of-58 in the last three games and 45.5% to Boston College), like BC, Miami still has to make them. And Miami has shot just 22-of-65 (33.8%) against FSU in their last four games against the Seminoles.
Despite Miami being the more three-point oriented team in the last few years, it has been FSU knocking in three’s in the most recent meetings that has decided some of these games. The Seminoles have made 27-of-64 three’s (42.2%) in the last four meetings against Miami, all wins. They have shot 40% or better from three in five of the last 11 meetings with Miami and three of last four. And unlike Miami, FSU has been making its three’s in ACC play (40%). Florida State had made 40% or more of its three’s in six of its seven straight wins before hitting just 5-of-20 in its loss at Boston College on Wednesday. They’ll need to regain that touch against Miami, but the Hurricanes have allowed just 29% shooting from three in league play and just 31-of-108 (28.7%) in the last five games of its winning streak since losing to N.C. State while allowing 60% (6-of-10) from three.
Most important players: Michael Snaer, Florida State and Malcolm Grant, Miami. Malcolm Grant has been really struggling ever since the death of his brother in late 2011, shooting under 50% in all but one of the ten games since and under 40% in seven of ten games. Against Georgia Tech and Boston College, it looked like he was finding his groove again with 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting (6-of-14 from three) but in the last three games, he has 20 points on 5-of-31 shooting (3-of-22 from three). Miami desperately needs the senior to find his touch again. Grant has had some big games against FSU in his career, including two huge ones last year. He averaged 19.5 points in two games versus FSU in 2011 on 11-of-28 shooting (8-of-20 from three), adding four assists and two steals. He was just 3-of-8 from inside the arc, but Miami will need him to find his three-point stroke more than attack the basket if they want to win this game.
It looked like Snaer had really found his stroke as he began ACC play: in FSU’s first seven ACC games, he shot 52.2% from the floor and 57.7% from three, averaging 15 points. In the last two games, Snaer has averaged 12 points on 33.3% shooting and just 3-of-11 from three. He was – and still is – looking like a first-team All-ACC performer for the resurgent Seminoles, but he will have to regain his shooting touch to make sure he earns that honor. Still, his defense is a big key to FSU’s success as well and if he’s having games like he did at BC, where their guards are going crazy and he’s hitting just 6-of-18 shots, they generally won’t end well for FSU. He has not had a double-figure scoring game against Miami in four tries in his career and has averaged 4.0 turnovers and 6.7 points on 10-of-31 shooting (3-of-10 from three).
Random stat: Florida State has obviously been a stronger program than Miami over the last decade, but the Seminoles have dominated the series in that span with a 12-4 record over the Hurricanes. When joining the ACC in 2005, Miami won its first three games against Florida State including two on the road) and have lost 10 of the last 11 with their only win coming at home in that span. In those five straight losses in Tallahassee, they have been outscored by 9.4 points per game. At home since 2003, Miami hasn’t lost by more than eight points to FSU and has won by as many as nine (in 2004). Miami’s last four losses to Florida State have come by a combined 15 points.
Prediction: Florida State 64, Miami 63
Last week: 10-2
Season: 103-36 (39-17 ACC)