Where: Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, FL
When: Saturday, January 14th, 2:00 PM
Records: UNC 15-2, 2-0 ACC; FSU 10-6, 1-1 ACC
There are two goals when UNC travels to Tallahassee to face Florida State.
1. Win the game
2. Leave Tallahassee with everyone's body parts properly attached.
In the grand scheme of the season #2 is easily more important goal than#1. In 2008, the Heels played at Florida State and a few minutes into the game Ty Lawson was taken down in a move better suited for college wrestling than basketball which resulted in the infamous ankle sprain from which Lawson never returned to 100% that season. That is not to say the two aren't mutually exclusive but the fear of injury is there given what happened to Lawson in 2008.
Florida State is an excellent defensive team. The Noles are also a very physical team with size that rivals UNC's. The rebounding numbers for both of these teams make this a very interesting match-up. UNC's is very good on the defensive glass limiting opposing teams to an OR% of 20.1 which is 20th nationally. FSU on the other hand is 21st in OR% at 38.7. If FSU sends players to the offensive boards and UNC manages to control them, the transition opportunities will be there. Another potential boon for UNC's transition game is FSU's 334th ranked TO%. FSU turns the ball over a quarter of the time with steal percentage of 12.1. That means having Dexter Strickland is rather important. As good as FSU's defense is, they do not force many turnovers and UNC is not prone to giving the ball up.
The challenge for UNC here is dealing with a physical team which could take Tyler Zeller and John Henson out of the game or at the very least disrupt the normal flow of UNC's offense. FSU's Bernard James is a shot blocker and physical presence in the paint. This puts pressure on Harrison Barnes in particular but also Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston coming off the bench to provide some scoring on the perimeter opening up the middle a bit. FSU's offense has a not-so-stellar reputation and facing a top ten defense should equate to the Heels being able to limit the Noles point production. From there UNC simply need to be good enough on offense to take a win on the road.
Since this is ACC play with College Game Day in town and FSU in need of a big win to offset some of its bad losses(Princeton at home) the "anything could happen" provision is in full effect. Oh and UNC has never started 4-0 in ACC play under Roy Williams. I am not sure that matters but these odd trends are always interesting.
UNC 71 FSU 58