Busting Brackets

Florida State vs. North Carolina: 2020-21 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

Feb 3, 2020; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles forward Raiquan Gray (1) drives past North Carolina Tar Heels forward Garrison Brooks (15) during the first half at Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2020; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles forward Raiquan Gray (1) drives past North Carolina Tar Heels forward Garrison Brooks (15) during the first half at Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports /

A marquee ACC showdown is set for Saturday afternoon between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Florida State Seminoles.

TV schedule: Saturday, February 27, 4:00 pm ET. ESPN

Arena: Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Fresh off a disappointing mid-week setback, the North Carolina Tar Heels will look for a much-needed resume-boosting win in daunting fashion, hosting the red-hot Florida State Seminoles in a pivotal ACC showdown.

The Tar Heels (14-8) – still in the tournament field – are dangerously approaching bubble territory, having endured three slip-ups in their last six games after romping through January with a 6-1 mark.  After dismantling Louisville by 45 on Saturday, North Carolina – in an impromptu scheduled home game – was toppled by a Marquette squad on Wednesday, 83-70.

North Carolina struggled to get much of anything going offensively against the Golden Eagles, with just one starter reaching double-digits in Garrison Brooks, who tallied a team-high 18 points (8-10 2PT).  The rest of UNC’s starting lineup scored just a combined 15 points – but the Tar Heels, at least, earned double-figure performances from RJ Davis (11 points) and Walker Kessler (10 points).

Those offensive struggles translated to team statistics, with the Tar Heels posting shooting percentages of 47.6% (2PT) and 27.8% (3PT) – all the while committing an overwhelming 19 turnovers, resulting in a miscue on 25.0% of their possessions.  Their woes broke through on the defensive end, as well, with North Carolina allowing the Golden Eagles to shoot a blistering 62.5% inside the arc – and a near-perfect 16-20 from the charity stripe.

They will now host a Florida State squad that has lost just one game this calendar year, a January 30th loss at Georgia Tech – having won nine of their last 10 games.  The Seminoles (14-3) are now on a four-game winning streak, which includes a 21-point rout over Virginia – and, most recently, back-to-back road wins at Pittsburgh and Miami.  At 10-2 in conference play, the Seminoles are currently sitting in first place in the ACC, half a game in front of Virginia.

With leading scorer M.J. Walker out due to an ankle injury, the Seminoles saw starters RaiQuan Gray (12 points, 13 rebounds, six assists) and Anthony Polite (12 points) reach double-figures in the 88-71 win over Miami – but it was actually the bench that propelled Florida State to victory.  Amassing for 57 of FSU’s 88 points, the bench saw Sardaar Calhoun and Balsa Koprivica post 16 and 13 points, respectively, all the while star freshman Scottie Barnes dished out a career-high eight assists.

The Seminoles were extremely efficient offensively, averaging 1.26 points per possession while suffocating Miami inside on a 63.6% two-point clip – while holding the Hurricanes to just 34.0%.  There were some areas of concern – including just seven trips to the charity stripe to 19 for Miami – but Florida State had little use for freebies, considering they dismantled the Hurricanes in points in the paint, 52-22.

Related Story. Key storylines for Florida State vs. UNC. light

These two teams have met once already this season, back on January 16th in a game where Scottie Barnes did not suit up for the Seminoles.  That did not hold back Florida State, however, considering they came out on top, 82-75 – but the Seminoles also received a game-high 21 points from M.J. Walker in that game, making his potential absence all that more concerning for Florida State.

In that game, the Tar Heels actually outscored Florida State from the floor, 64-56 – but where the Seminoles won the game was from the free-throw line, where they went 26-27 to UNC’s 11-14 clip.  The two teams were nearly equal in most statistical categories – points in the paint, points off turnovers, and second-chance points were all decided by three points or less, each – with the only sizeable differential coming in fast-break points, where Florida State held an 18-6 edge.

Most of the themes in that game will hold true in this rematch.  There is no mystery just how deep – and how potentially deadly – UNC’s frontcourt can be, largely because of their reliance on the offensive glass.  What is worrying for the Seminoles is that they have surrendered 32 combined offensive boards between the Pittsburgh and Miami games – meaning they will have to rely on their inside defense to prevent the Tar Heels from scoring on those opportunities.

Next. Top 10 National Coach of the Year candidates. dark

Luckily, despite giving up so many offensive boards, the Seminoles are still shutting teams down inside – in those same two games against Pittsburgh and Miami, the Seminoles are holding those two squads to a 38.8% clip on two-pointers.  Considering that is where 59.9% of UNC’s offense – the 11th-highest mark in Div. I – comes from, the Seminoles are in prime condition to claim their fifth-straight win of the season.

Prediction: Florida State 84 – North Carolina 73