This is only the beginning of my foray into flow charts, I fear. I've had them in mind for a while now after seeing this masterpiece. I don't know the first thing about New Orleans, but I was totally rapt while reading. So this was kind of a quick one, but there will be more elaborate ones to come.
Tonight, we play FSU. The Noles are coming off two straight road losses, to Auburn and Virginia Tech. Falling to Auburn was particularly bad, but this game strikes me as really dangerous. Here's what worries me about Florida State, with most stats grabbed from Ken Pomeroy's FSU page:
1) They're big. 3rd in the country in average height, and 34th in effective height. Their biggest guy, Xavier Gibson, will be out with a knee injury, but they still have three guys over 6'8" to throw at the Plumlees. If the performance of Reggie Johnson and Jordan Williams is any indication, Chris Singleton in particular could be in for a big night.
Their guards are very big, too. They'll have at least 3 inches on every guard except Dawkins.
2) They defend the 2 very, very well. They're 4th in the country, in fact. They're not going to give up many mid-range jumpers, and the height of their guards and bigs means Nolan and Kyle will have their hands full driving the lane.
Worse, the Noles are first in the country in block percentage. They get a block on 19.6% of their opponent's possessions. They're even ahead of Syracuse in this one. Nolan got swatted quite a bit against Maryland when he went inside, and it's going to be even harder against FSU.
3) They defend the 3 very, very well. 14th in the country. This is down to the height, length, and quickness of their guards. We won't be getting many uncontested, wide-open threes. They'll be playing aggressive man-to-man, and if the Tallahassee crowd shows up with energy, scoring could be a struggle.
Based on this scouting report, it looks like Duke will have trouble inside, outside, and everywhere in between. HOWEVER:
1) They turn the ball over quite a bit. They're 311th out of 345 teams in terms of turnovers per possession. That's bad, and it's even worse against a team like Duke who creates a ton of frontcourt pressure (38th in the country at forcing turnovers).
2) They can't shoot. That goes for threes, twos, and foul shots.
On paper, this is a strange match-up. Florida State's defense seems to be specifically designed to stymie an offense like Duke. But the opposite is also true; other than some skilled big men, Duke could easily stifle FSU's offense. The bookmakers are placing the over/under 143 with Duke as an 8-point favorite, which indicates that they're expecting a 75-67 type game. I think that's extremely high, for both teams, and if you gamble I recommend taking the under.
With both offenses poorly set, home court advantage becomes a big factor. Will the partisans at the Tucker Center propel their team to a big game? Duke is more talented, and all things being equal they should triumph based on skill alone. Strange things happen on the road, though, especially in Tallahassee; Duke is only 4-3 there in the past decade, despite having the superior team on every occasion.
It should be a war. Somehow, I have a feeling this will be an even greater test than Kansas State or Michigan State or Maryland. We need to come out strong and take the crowd out of the equation; letting FSU hang around is a recipe for disaster. It's the first ACC game away from Cameron, and the upset potential is high.
Oops, I forgot Hot Potato! Thanks to Laura for the reminder. The Hot Potato for Duke-Florida State is:
Submit your guesses by game time, and read here for more info on Hot Potato if you're new.