NIT Second Round Essentials: GTown at FSU

The last candle of the Big East season heads to Tallahassee for an uphill battle with the Seminoles

Raise your hands if you had Georgetown as the last Big East team standing. Okay, it’s the NIT, but still, it’s weird. The Hoyas’ consolation adventure continued tonight in Tallahassee when the Hoyas travel to take on the Florida State Seminoles.

Georgetown doesn’t have a road win over a decent team all year, and Florida St. clearly qualifies as a decent team. At 20-13 and 9-9 in the ACC, I thought Florida St. belonged in the NCAA Tournament. They beat VCU in Puerto Rico and Pittsburgh on the road, and had no bad losses. But, an inability to round out their resume with more than a split with Clemson and a 2-1 record against Maryland condemned them, understandably, to the NIT.

The Seminoles are a pretty well rounded team. They have one major strength and two major weakenesses. On the plus side, the Seminoles are one of the better teams in the nation at preventing opponents from making field goals. They are particularly effective in denying teams two point shots, limiting them to 43.6% from inside the arc, thanks in large part to blocking 14% of opposing shots. On the down side, Florida St. turns the ball over a ton, in 21.2% of their possessions. They are also horrible on the defensive boards, allowing opponents to grab an astounding 36% of their misses.

Seminole guard Ian Miller is questionable for tonight’s game. He’s is the team’s first option on offense, and is an effective shooter from all over the floor (49.3% 2FG, 39.5% 3FG, 86.3% FT). He is also an effective passer.

Even without Miller, Florida St. has the personnel to match up well with Georgetown. Aaron Thomas is Florida St.’s cog in Miller’s absence. His offensive strength is drawing fouls and getting to the line, where he shoots 81.4%. This of course matches up well with Georgetown’s foul prone defense. Center Okaro White is mostly a defensive specialist, but he also poses maor matchup problems for the Hoyas’ and their weak frontcourt. He also gets to the line a great deal, where he shoots a surprising 79.2%. Montay Brandon also gets to the line a good amount. Based on Georgetown’s defensive performance this year, it isn’t difficult to see these guys combining to shoot 40 free throws and burying the Hoyas from the line.

Guard Devon Bookert is also a good passer and very effective at forcing opposing guards to turn it over. He also shoots 40.2% from three.

The Seminoles pose a difficult challenge for Georgetown offensively, because they are well situated to deny the Hoyas their offensive strength of driving to the holes for layups and fouls. If that doesn’t work, the Hoyas will likely struggle to score thanks to their weak 32.8% shooting from three. With little ability from long range and dicey propositions of scoring inside, Georgetown absolutely must take advantage of Florida St.’s weaknesses on the boards and get offensive rebounds.

Of course, doing this is easier if Georgetown’s big men can remain in the game and not succumb to foul trouble as they have all year. As previously discussed, that is a major risk against the Seminoles. Georgetown also needs their front court to stay in the game not only to provide some interior defense that sorely lacks when the Hoyas are forced to go small, but to defend their own defensive boards, where they have struggled all year and where Florida St. is actually pretty good.

Georgetown also must take advantage of Florida St.’s propensity for turnovers. If the Seminoles don’t turn it over their likely high amount, they will likely shoot to well for the Hoyas to stay in the game. Given their likely offensive struggles in this one, the Hoyas will also need to use those turnovers to generate some easy transition opportunities.

Florida St. presents a difficult matchup for Georgetown because their strengths coincide with the Hoyas’ weaknesses. As the game progresses, watch to see if Georgetown is getting offensive rebounds, avoiding rampant foul trouble, and forcing turnovers. If they can do those things, the Hoyas will be in decent position to win. Otherwise, it will likely be a long night for John Thompson III’s team.

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