NCAA Basketball: Florida State/North Carolina Preview, Odds and Prediction

by Big Al Staff

The semifinals of the ACC tournament concludes with North Carolina and Florida State completing their season trilogy. The ESPN tip-off will be 30 minutes after the end of the Georgia Tech-Virginia opening game at 6:30 PM ET. A 9 PM ET start is likely.

North Carolina won their third straight game and their sixth game in their last eight, with an 81-73 victory against Virginia Tech as a 0.5-point favorite yesterday. Armando Bacot scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to help lift the Tar Heels to the victory. The sophomore pulled down 13 rebounds, and he leads the team with a 12.2 points-per-game scoring average and an 8.0 rebounds-per-game average. Freshman R.J. Davis scored 19 points to improve his 8.6 points-per-game number.

Roy Williams has his team peaking in March. During their three-game winning streak, they are averaging 91 points-per-game, which is almost a 17 points-per-game improvement over the 74.2 points-per-game they were averaging after their last setback on March 1st to Syracuse. Williams’ experienced his worst record as the North Carolina head coach last year, with his team finishing with a 14-19 record. While Cole Anthony moved on to the NBA from that team, Williams did see most of the contributors last season return. He buttressed that group with one of the top-three incoming freshmen classes in the nation with three five-star recruits and three four-star recruits (including Davis).

The Tar Heels lead the nation by rebounding 41.1% of their missed shots. After only pulling down two missed shots in the first half yesterday, they grabbed 13 offensive rebounds in the second half to pull away from the Hokies. North Carolina is 49th in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. This team struggles to make baskets. They have an effective field goal percentage of 48.9% this season, 22nd nationally, dragged down by their 31.6% clip with 3-point attempts, 273rd nationally. They are only converting 49.5% of their shots inside the arc, 186th nationally.

The Tar Heels are 16th at kenpom in adjusted defensive efficiency. With an 18-9 record overall and a 10-6 mark in the ACC, North Carolina ranks 26th in the kenpom ratings.

Those marks rank 265th and 288th in the country. The Tar Heels are crashing the boards like a typical Williams-coached team as they rank third in the nation by rebounding 41.4% of their missed shots.

Florida State got an unexpected day off yesterday when Duke pulled out of the ACC tournament after a positive COVID test. The Seminoles last played on Saturday when they were upset at Notre Dame, 84-46, as a 10.5-point favorite. That loss cost them the top seed in this tournament. Freshman Scottie Barnes scored 17 points in the losing effort, and junior RaiQuan Smith contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds. Barnes is averaging 10.4 points-per-game, and Smith is adding 12.4 points-per-game. Senior M.J. Walker leads the team with a 13.1 points-per-game scoring average.

Leonard Hamilton’s team is 15th in the AP poll with a 15-5 record, and they finished 11-4 in the conference. Their five losses are against Georgia Tech, Clemson, these Tar Heels, and Irish on Saturday, with a non-conference loss to Central Florida. The Seminoles have non-conference victories against Florida and Indiana. They had three games canceled in January due to COVID issues.

Florida State ranks 11th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They are 16th in the nation with an offensive rebounding rate of 35.2%, and they are making 38.5% of their 3-pointers, 13th nationally. The Seminoles ranks 46th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They have an opponent’s field goal percentage of 44.2% inside the arc, which is the 11th lowest mark in the nation.

These two teams split their two regular-season encounters. Florida State won at home, 82-75, as a 3.5-point favorite on January 16th. North Carolina returned the favor in Chapel Hill on February 27th as a 2-point underdog, 78-70.

BookMaker lists Florida State as a 2.5-point favorite with the total set at 151.5.

Computer prediction:  Florida State 77 North Carolina 73

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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