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FSU Faces Louisiana Tech In NIT Quarterfinals

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 10:03am
By: Lauren Brownlow

 By Lauren Brownlow

LOUISIANA TECH (29-7) AT FLORIDA STATE (21-13) (NIT)

Time: 7:00 p.m.

TV: ESPN2/WatchESPN

THE SKINNY

So, Louisiana Tech likes to go fast. The Bulldogs are 18th nationally in tempo and FSU has played two faster teams all season so far (Northwestern State and Massachusetts) and beaten both. Giving FSU more possessions is certainly never a bad thing, and the Seminoles have the athletes for a game like this. But see, heres the problem - one of the reasons Louisiana Tech gets all these extra possessions is that the Bulldogs are 10th nationally in defensive turnover percentage (22.8%) and sixth in steal percentage (12.7%). And they do all this while taking care of the ball themselves (15.9% turnover percentage). But if FSU has something working for it, its that Louisiana Tech - in spite of making just 33.1% of its threes - attempts 38% of its shots from beyond the arc, which is 58th nationally. The Bulldogs actually make 52.7% of their two-pointers (27th nationally) but only score a little less than half their points from inside the arc. So if FSU can limit them to threes and hope they dont go in, Id say thats a solid enough plan.

NAMES TO KNOW

Alex Hamilton. The 6-4 combo guard (hes played anywhere from 1-3 the last five games) ends the second-most La Tech possessions (25.4%) when hes on the court, and why not? Hes shooting nearly 56% from two and is the only Bulldog to rank in Ken Poms free-throw rate (150th). He also draws 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes. If he has a negative, its that hes shooting just 27.5% from three, and he can be a little erratic. But hes hit double figures in six straight games now and nine of the last 10, and hes shooting 29-of-58 from the floor in the last five games alone (and averaging 4.6 free-throw attempts - a bit below what hed normally get, but he did have eight in the Bulldogs win at Georgia on Saturday). And heres an interesting stat - the player he is most similar to statistically based on his profile this season is..2014 Aaron Thomas. Speaking of which

Aaron Thomas. So, Aaron Thomas. Time to talk about this guy. Id like to say I am one of the first on the Thomas bandwagon, as I think hes really going to take a huge leap forward as a junior next season and be one of the best - if not the best - players in the league. Why not? He already was for big chunks of this season, and hes coming on at the right time yet again for the Seminoles. Averaging 24 points (yes, averaging) in the NIT so far on 15-of-25 shooting (4-of-8 from three) and 14-of-21 from the foul line, hes been downright unstoppable. Which hes certainly capable of being - for awhile in the non-conference especially, he was FSUs most consistent player. Hes still a little turnover-prone at times, but when he can drive into the lane, theres like at least a 67% chance something good is going to happen. Theres always the chance hell turn it over or miss a wild shot, but more likely is hell get fouled and/or make a basket. If he fine-tunes some of his control issues and keeps that jump shot (hes nearly 38% from three this year), you heard it here first - First Team All-ACC next year. Mark. It. Down. Maybe even Player of the Year, who knows?

STATS ARE FOR LOSERS

One reason the Bulldogs take a lot of three-pointers is that they do have one guy that is good at shooting them, and thats Kenyon McNeail, who has nearly 50 more made threes than anyone else on the team and is shooting over 40% from distance. Something to watch: Louisiana Tech is 32nd in the country in experience (an average of 2.28 years). Florida State is 205th. Florida State had an eFG% of 80.7% against Georgetown, their highest in the Ken Pom era and the highest allowed by Georgetown in that span, too. FSUs 136.7 offensive efficiency against the Hoyas was their second-best of the season and best since December 18 (a 138.3 against Charlotte).

NARRATIVES

Florida State Win: BASKETBALL IS STILL A THING THAT IS HAPPENING!

Also, youre going to New York! GO CRAZY!

Florida State Loss: 

PREDICTION

Florida State, 83-77. An uptempo game for the Seminoles? Why yes, I think they would enjoy that.

Overall: 129-50 (108-38 ACC) (21-12 Postseason)

Last week: 9-5 (9-5 Postseason)