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ACC Tournament Quarterfinal Preview: Florida State

The Hokies made it past Wake Forest but will face an incredibly tough test against Florida State.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

The Hokies were able to defeat Wake Forest in their rematch, and will look to do the same against Florida State tonight. The Seminoles proved to be one of the best teams in the conference this season and earned the 2nd seed in the ACC tournament. They will likely be one of the higher seeded teams in the NCAA tournament and will look to make a deep run. Florida State certainly has the talent this year to compete with the top teams in the country, which makes this matchup a difficult one for Virginia Tech.

The last meeting did not go so well for the Hokies down in Tallahassee. Virginia Tech came off a shellacking against NC State, and lost Seth Allen to a concussion during the game. In the end, the Hokies lost 93-78 shorthanded and away from home. However, both teams look very different now. The Hokies are still shorthanded due to injuries, but have looked very good lately, at least on the offensive end. Meanwhile, Florida State has shown some weaknesses after seeming invincible at the beginning of conference play.

You can read my preview and scouting report from the first game here.

What went right in the first meeting?

Despite the final spread, Virginia Tech actually held a lead for the first 10 minutes of the game. The Hokies had success getting the ball inside the paint multiple times per possession during that span. Unfortunately, the Hokies’ leading scorer that afternoon in Chris Clarke will not be able to play in the rematch. He was the only one consistently getting inside the teeth of the defense and penetrating the Seminoles’ extended zone. As a result, Clarke shot 11 free throws by himself. Virginia Tech got to the charity stripe frequently in yesterday’s win over Wake Forest, attempting 31 free throws in the second half. They would be well served using the same strategy against the Seminoles.

In addition to Clarke’s success, LeDay had a nice outing, shooting 8-of-11 from the field and totaled 19 points. The redshirt senior tallied a career high in points (31) and rebounds (15) against the Deacons, and will need to control the glass and patrol the paint once more if the Hokies want any shot at pulling off the upset. He needs to be a force inside to collapse the extended zone and open up space for shooters on the outside.

What went wrong?

Much more went wrong than right in the first meeting. One of the main issues was the turnovers. The Hokies’ struggled against FSU’s length, as the Seminoles seemingly disrupted every pass and dribble-drive with their active hands. The only ball movement the Hokies were generating were from dribble handoffs, which did not do the job breaking down a very stout defense. Florida State ended up forcing 16 turnovers on the afternoon, which is simply too many to overcome against a quality side. The Hokies have had periods where they don’t take great care of the basketball, but for the most part have valued the possession well over the last eight games. That needs to continue tonight.

Another issue which has visibly been corrected was perimeter shooting. As a team, the Hokies combined to go 4-of-15 from behind the arc back in January’s meeting. Ahmed Hill went 3-of-5 from three but Justin Robinson had the other lone triple for the Hokies. Virginia Tech figured out how to move the ball against Wake Forest’s defense for open looks, but it will be much tougher against the Seminoles. The Hokies will more than likely need a good shooting night to get a win. Ty Outlaw, Justin Bibbs, and Ahmed Hill will all be key players with their ability to hurt the ‘Noles from deep.

One of the problems that will be tough to overcome for Virginia Tech is simply how deep this Florida State team is. They are loaded with talent throughout the roster. In the first meeting, the Hokies played eight guys total - Florida State brought eight guys off the bench alone. Ten players registered at least one point for the Seminoles, while ten players played at least ten minutes. That is beyond impressive. On short rest, the Hokies will have their hands full with a squad that is deep and chock-full of talent.

Prediction:

Teams with size generally are not good matchups for Virginia Tech, and FSU has size in spades. Every single one of their wings and forwards has at least a 6-10 wingspan. The Hokies are missing their best athlete in Clarke, and I don’t think the addition of a much smaller Seth Allen in his place is able to do as much damage. The Hokies will have a tough time on the boards and will eventually tire out in the second half.

FSU 83-75.

The game will be televised at 7 PM EST on ESPN.