Fresh Florida State Will Be Too Strong for N.C. State in ACC Clash

Rainman M.

Sunday, February 25, 2018 12:55 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 12:55 PM UTC

NC State hosts newly ranked No. 25 Florida State tonight at 6 ET. The Wolfpack are favored by three points. Should their strong ATS record at home convince bettors to back them?

Sunday College Basketball: Florida State vs. N.C. StateFree NCAAB Pick: Florida State +3Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Defensively, Florida State (19-8 SU, 14-10-1 ATS) matches up well with N.C. State (19-9 SU, 12-12 ATS) based on the distribution of quality among N.C. State’s starters. In 15 conference games, FSU has allowed an opposing guard to be the leading or second-leading scorer with 19+ points in 10 of those games. In six of those 10, the guard achieved a season high in points or second-highest. The remaining five games included Miami’s Bruce Brown leading his team with 20+ points. Brown is a small forward but converted from shooting guard. In another of the five games, the guard trio of slow-tempo and low-scoring Virginia (Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and Devon Hall) were UVA's only scorers in double figures.

The bigger guys who have done well against FSU have included superstar, NBA-caliber Duke forward Marvin Bagley and players who are versatile and athletic enough to threaten FSU with their efficiency from three in addition to their effectiveness inside the arc — such as Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson from UNC. Big guys who lack that versatility but rely more on strength such as Clemson’s Elijah Thomas and Louisville’s Ray Spalding were less effective and did not dominate vs FSU. The 'Noles are 8-2 ATS vs. good offensive teams averaging more than 77 points per game.

While No. 25 FSU is susceptible to the scoring potential of opposing guards, N.C. State’s guards — Markell Johnson and Braxton Beverly -- rank fourth and fifth, respectively, on the team in points per game. Guard/small forward Allerik Freeman leads the team in scoring, but only because he has easily attempted more shots than his teammates. Freeman has the lowest two-point shooting percentage among Wolfpack starters and the second-lowest three-point percentage. So N.C. State lacks the tools with which to exploit FSU’s weakness against guards.

A consequence of the lack of scoring potential of N.C. State’s guards is that the Wolfpack lack confidence from three. They rank 11th in proportion of threes attempted and have the third-highest point distribution from inside the arc. N.C. State’s guards rather excel as distributors. But they will struggle to help its big men make plays against FSU’s third-ranked half-court defense in the ACC. The Seminoles use length to clog the opponent’s passing lanes. They rank 14th in height. Guard/forward Trent Forrest and guard Braian Angola rank in the top 200 in steal percentage. Guard CJ Walker ranks 464th in the category. The Seminoles also boast some mean size in the interior. Big men Ike Obiagu and Christ Koumadje average 1.7 blocks per game.

Offensively, FSU excels inside. FSU ranks third in the ACC in two-point percentage and first in proportion of free throws attempted per field goals attempted. Forward Terance Mann ranks 83rd in two-point shooting percentage and leads FSU with 14 points per game. FSU boasts more size and scoring in second-leading scorer Phil Cofer, who ranks 374th in two-point shooting and averages 13.4 points per game. Conversely, the Wolfpack rank last in the ACC in opposing two-point percentage and 10th in opposing proportion of free throws attempted. FSU’s length will again be advantageous in offensive rebounding and second-chance points, where the Seminoles rank third in the ACC, while the Wolfpack’s defensive rebounding percentage ranks 13th.

N.C. State backers will point to their strong home ATS record and FSU’s weaker ATS road record. But FSU, a 3-point road underdog on the college basketball odds board, will be fresh today. The Seminoles are 2-0 ATS (at Duke and at Virginia Tech) with 4+ days of rest on the road in ACC play and will make it 3-0 today in our NCAAB picks.

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