Louisiana Tech and
Just as he did last March, Louisiana Tech head coach Mike White is taking his Bulldogs to Tallahassee for an NIT contest against the Florida State Seminoles. Leonard Hamilton and the 'Noles are hoping for a different outcome with a trip to the Final Four on the line Wednesday night.
ESPN2 begins its broadcast from Tucker Center at 7 PM (ET), and follow it up with the other NIT Quarterfinals matchup between SMU and California. Florida State opened as 2.5 point chalk, and SBR's live NCAA basketball odds presently list 147.5 for the total.
Instead of the 1/3 seed clash this meeting is, the contest a year ago came in the opening round with FSU seeded fourth and La Tech fifth. The Seminoles closed as 3 point favorites in that one, and rallied from an early 6-0 hole to build a 9-point lead two minutes into the second half. But the Bulldogs didn't back down, and their shots started falling on the way to an eventual 71-66 upset that came up short of a 147 point total.
Hope To Crack FSU Defense
Louisiana Tech (29-7 straight up, 17-12 against the spread) came up about 15 minutes short of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991 when the Bulldogs couldn't get past Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game. They held a 4-point lead in the second half vs. the Golden Hurricane, but couldn't hold serve as the top seed in that tournament, succumbing to Tulsa 69-60.
The hangover from that setback spilled over into La Tech's 1st-round game of the NIT vs. Iona. Favored by 10, the Bulldogs shot to a 10-2 lead before the Gaels got their offense going to keep the game close the rest of the way. Louisiana Tech needed a put-back by Kenneth Smith in the waning seconds to pull off the 89-88 victory.
That set up a showdown at 2nd-seeded Georgia last Saturday, and the Bulldogs once again came out strong with an 18-2 advantage and 19-point halftime lead. Georgia didn't lay down, however, closing within seven late in the second half. Smith's 3-pointer quelled the rally as Louisiana Tech held on for a 79-71 victory as 1 point road chalk.
The Bulldogs rank 14th in the country averaging 81.2 points per game, 15th in rebounding (39.2 rpg) and 12th nationally dishing out nearly 16 assists per contest.
'Noles Coming Off
Best Offensive Effort Of Season
They'll need to have their best all-around game against a Florida State (21-13 SU, 17-14-1 ATS) squad that is in the top 30 of the nation limiting opponents to a 40.1% field goal mark, and holding foes to just 32.7% shooting from outside the arc.
Defense was not the story of the Seminoles' latest victory, however. Florida State hung 101 points on Georgetown Monday night in Tallahassee for an 11-point victory as 3 point chalk. The Seminoles shot 68.2% from the field overall, and were better from outside where they converted 11-of-16 attempts from 3-point range (68.8%).
That effort came just six days after FSU struggled to get past Florida Gulf Coast in the NIT opening round. The Seminoles were giving up 10.5 on the NCAA basketball odds, and they never could pull away from the Eagles in the 58-53 decision. They were without Ian Miller who was dealing with an injured foot, and the 'Noles missed his offense coming off the bench.
Miller did play in the win vs. the Hoyas, scoring 18 points in the 6th-man role and connecting on four of his six 3-point attempts.
I simply don't see the Bulldogs pulling off the upset in Tallahassee a second straight season, especially with the way FSU was scoring Monday vs. Georgetown. The Seminoles minus the points is my free NCAA basketball pick.
My pick: Florida State -2.5Season: 59-43-4 (+11.7), 2 picks pending