To preview tomorrow night's ACC basketball tilt between the Boston College Eagles and the Florida State Seminoles, we had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Rogner of Tomahawk Nation to swap notes. Below are our questions and his answers.
In exchange, we answered some questions on the Eagles over at TN.
BC Interruption: Let's start by discussing Florida State's marquee win of the year so far, a 66-61 home win over then #1 Duke. How were the Seminoles able to knock off the Blue Devils?
Tomahawk Nation: FSU forgot about the 3-guard lineups they'd been playing, and instead started a traditional lineup, which for the Seminoles meant 6'9" Chris Singleton slid out to play the wing. Duke was unable to counter the inside presence and FSU has since stuck with that lineup. Duke's defense repeatedly collapsing on the interior opened lanes for PG Derwin Kitchen, and he responded with his second career double-double at 20 points and 10 rebounds, adding 3 steals and 3 assists. Singleton chipped in 18 points, though his biggest contribution came on the defensive end where he held Kyle Singler to 0-5 shooting in the 1st half with 5 turnovers. Why Duke let Singler go one-on-one with Singleton is a mystery, but in the 2nd half they came out with multiple screens to get switches and allow Singler to go to work against other players. Singler scored 18 of his 20 points after the break. But he didn't get any help. FSU's defense was smothering (Duke scored 61 on 69 possessions), and our offense did just enough.
BCI: Duke, Boston College and Florida State are tied atop the ACC standings at 4-1. How good is this year's Florida State team? In other words, in an otherwise down year for the ACC, where do you expect FSU to finish the year in the ACC?
TN: Despite beating the Blue Devils, Duke is still clearly the better team. BC meanwhile has been more dominant than FSU in conference play, but against a softer schedule. The Noles are only out-scoring conference opponents by .04 per possession, which leads me to believe were in for a 7-4/6-5 type finish. I'll take 7-4 since we don't play Duke or Virginia Tech the rest of the way, and draw Wake twice. If we do go 11-5 it will be the first time since the 92'-93' season that we've done that well. And for tourney purposes we better hope I'm right (11 wins), as with our inexcusable out-of-conference scheduling and terrible loss at Auburn we've done everything we can to deflate an RPI. The RPI is stupid, don't get me wrong, but I doubt we're in at 10-6 if we go one-and-done in the conference tourney.
BCI: Let's get to the matchup between BC and FSU. Florida State has the 7th best defense in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency, while BC has the 4th best offense in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency. So something's got to give in this one. How do you see this game going down?
TN: Only once this season has FSU given up more than 1 point per possession (Butler), so I would expect BC's trend of lighting up ACC opponents to end. If all five of FSU's guys are locked-in their help defense can be a thing of beauty, and I assume the Noles will come out focused since the game is in Tallahassee. Fortunately for BC the FSU half-court offense is just terrible. For BC to win they'll need to make sure that their turnovers and missed shots don't lead to transition offense. The more you keep FSU in a half-court set, the better. Conversely, the Seminoles need to exploit their depth of size on the interior to grind out some half court possessions.
BCI: Chris Singleton leads the team with 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. How has this season gone for Singleton, and do you stop him on defense?
TN: Chris is a tremendous talent, though still raw on the offensive end. He has all the tools to be starting wing in the NBA, but has yet to put it all together. He can hit the 3 (38%), has discovered a touch at the line (70%), and can score over either shoulder with his back to the basket. But it's all the little things that make scoring possible that he hasn't mastered. Last year he tended to drift around the perimeter and take himself out of games offensively, and while he still does that on occasion, he's become more assertive and you have to guard him. To contain him you need to do two things. One is force him to drive when he's at the arc as he's never learned to protect the ball, and when he does he'll often take ill advised shots off the dribble. The second is to play him physical in the paint. He still focuses too much on drawing contact rather than finishing strong at the rim. If the refs are swallowing their whistles then he's relatively easy to guard, if not expect several trips to the line.
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got in this one? What's the final score?
TN: I expect a tight game for the entire 40 minutes, with FSU winning 68-64.