At least on the first weekend, March Madness is all about the little guys. The UNC Greensboro Spartans certainly qualify as a little guy, a little guy with a big-time player as they look for an upset win over the Florida State Seminoles in the opening round of the East Region.
UNC Greensboro Spartans vs. Florida State Seminoles
Saturday, March 20, 2021 – 12:45 P.M. ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Florida State is one of seven teams from the ACC to gain an invite to the NCAA Tournament, and the top-ranked team in the conference at No. 14 in both conventional polls. That was good enough to earn a No. 4 seed this time around, which should be enough to help lessen the sting of the Seminoles dropping the ACC Tournament Championship Game as favorites. Greensboro pulled off regular season and tournament titles in the Southern Conference, and the Spartans 13-seed can be almost entirely attributed to Isaiah Miller.
FSU Enters Dance on 7-2 O/U Run
One of the early tips on Saturday, this one gets underway shortly after the Georgetown-Colorado clash. All the action can be followed on truTV, and Florida State is drawing a double-digit chalk line of 10½ at most outlets after the contest was sent out -11. Playing the scoreboard means a decision on a 145-point total.
Leonard Hamilton guided the Seminoles through a difficult season to finish just about where they were expected to on the preseason college basketball futures. They were right there behind Virginia and Duke on the ACC totem pole last November, finished just behind the Cavaliers in the regular season, then made it to the title game in the league tourney. Granted, the virus kept the Seminoles from having to face the Blue Devils at all (once in the regular season, once in the tournament), and potentially the Cavaliers, but they did beat Virginia handily when given the chance during the regular season.
Florida State simply caught a Georgia Tech team on a roll when the Seminoles dropped the ACC Championship Game to the Yellow Jackets. Those of us who watched it saw a tremendous game that remained close throughout, Georgia Tech’s biggest lead being 7 and Florida State’s 9. The Seminoles turned it over 25 times, close to twice their season average, but it was as much to the credit of the Yellow Jackets’ defense as it was Florida State’s blame.
Spartans Underdogs for Just 4th Time in 2020-21
Wes Miller and the Spartans are making just their fourth appearance at the NCAA Tournament and seeking the program’s first win in the event. The last time came in the 2018 dance when UNC Greensboro drew Gonzaga in an identical 13/4 matchup. The Spartans almost pulled off a dramatic rally in a 68-64 loss as 12-point underdogs, and Gonzaga eventually made it to the Sweet 16. Their previous two trips in 1996 and 2001 found UNC Greensboro taking on No. 2 Cincinnati and No. 1 Stanford, respectively, and both of those sides made it to the Elite Eight.
Greensboro wasn’t even the pick to win the Southern Conference this season, taking the preseason bridesmaid role to Furman. But the Spartans won the regular-season crown, their third in five years, then won the Southern Tournament with victories over The Citadel, East Tennessee State, and Mercer, each time as chalk on the NCAAB lines. Miller led the Spartans in scoring all three games, as he did 18 other times during the regular season, the senior guard ranking 35th in the country at 19.3 PPG.
‘Noles Have Won All 4 Previous Meetings
Florida State and UNC Greensboro are getting together for the fifth time, with the Seminoles having won all four of the previous matchups. The schools scheduled a home-&-home series during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 campaigns, and again on the 2010-11 and 2011-12 fixtures. Florida State won by at least 10 points in each contest, the most recent a 75-60 decision at home in December 2011 in Tallahassee. The Spartans kept it close enough to cover on a +23½ spread, and the final pushed a closing 135-point total at most of the best sports betting sites.
The Seminoles are in the dance for a fourth consecutive season, discounting the canceled 2020 event, and 18th NCAA Tournament overall. Their last trip in 2019 was also as a No. 4 seed, making it to the Sweet 16 before bowing out to top-seeded Gonzaga. Florida State’s recent struggles in the turnover column concern me, leading me to go with a college basketball pick on the ‘over.’
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.