2019/20 FSU Basketball Season Preview – Schedule Analysis

With just under two weeks until the first exhibition game, welcome to the final week of the 2019/20 FSU Basketball Season Preview. Click the links below for the previous weeks of the series.

Week 1 – The Newcomers

Week 2 – The Returners

Week 3 – ACC Preview

Week 4 – Team Analysis

This week, it’s a lengthy one, so grab some coffee, grab a snack, stretch… you might need it. I don’t know why I have decided to do this to myself, but listed below is an analysis of the entire schedule, including all dates, times, TV broadcast (if there is one), a quick expectation of what to expect from each game, and a win/loss prediction. All times and TV broadcasts are subject to change.

Have fun reading!

A Few Notes Before You Read

In the past, FSU has gotten a rough schedule from the ACC in terms of when they play their top conference opponents. For once, the ACC mostly did FSU a favor, but we’ll point out the exceptions as we get to them. With the league expanding to 20 conference games, 14 ACC wins is now the goal in order to be in a good position to get the coveted double-bye in the ACC Tournament. While I’d like to go through the exhibition games and postseason, no one cares much about the exhibition games (Game Previews will still be posted for them the day before/of the game, plus those are wins), and the postseason is just too hard to predict six months in advance. I’ll give my postseason expectations at the end of the schedule analysis. Obviously, these are to be taken with a grain of salt, as injuries will happen to FSU and their opponents. The explanations for ACC games will be shorter compared to the non-conference teams, as I’ve already detailed every ACC team in Week 3’s preview. Lastly, as much as the bias in me wants to say FSU will go 31-0 in the regular season and continue to go undefeated on their way to an ACC and National Championship, this will be as unbiased as I can be.

Anyways, here we go!

at Pittsburgh

November 6, 8 pm, ESPNU

As mentioned in the ACC preview, Pittsburgh always seems to give FSU problems. Even when FSU has won, it hasn’t been pretty. Florida State’s previous two games in Pitt have resulted in losses by 13 (2019) and 14 (2017). The Panthers will be an improved team, FSU is filled with inexperience, and it’s the first game of the season making it tough to scout. It’s not hard to imagine Florida State dropping this game, and will actually predict it to happen.

Pittsburgh is a team that excels at getting to the free-throw line, finishing 28th last season in free throws attempted. If FSU can stay out of foul trouble, they’ll help their chances, but the Seminoles are too inexperienced for me to feel comfortable handing out a win here.


at Florida

November 10, 1 pm, ESPN

Florida State is currently riding a 5-game winning streak over the Gators, but this is easily the most talented team Florida has had since the 2007 National Championship team that featured Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Marreese Speights. Grad Transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr rounds out a roster that has six other 4 or 5 stars and has been a trendy Final 4 pick among analysts. On the flip side, Mike White is still their coach (and the Gators just gave him an extension and a raise for some reason). 4 of the last 6 matchups have been decided by 5 points or less, but the last two meetings have been blowout wins for Florida State. This should be a much closer game. Both teams have just enough inexperience for it to catch up to them.

Florida attempted a ton of threes last season, which makes sense with Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen. I don’t think they’re as good of a shooting team as last year, but I still expect Mike White to give them the green light from distance.

This is a tough start for FSU, having to go into two hostile environments to start the season. It isn’t that unreasonable that FSU could start 0-2, or if they come out hot 2-0 isn’t that unrealistic either. They’ll more than likely split the games against Pitt and Florida, with the win coming against Florida.


Western Carolina

November 15, 7 pm, ACCNX

Western Carolina won a total of 7 games last season, but do return all 5 leading scorers from an inexperienced roster. Another year of experience under their belts should mean they won’t be in the bottom half of the Southern Conference, but they still won’t be great. We’ll learn a lot about this team in their first game of the year, a matchup with Georgia. They’ll also play North Carolina A&T just three days before FSU, which isn’t a lot of time to recover and then travel for college athletes.

The one thing they are good at though is shooting the ball, as they finished top-60 in 3-point% at 37%. They’re very undisciplined though, finishing in the bottom-30 in personal fouls, so expect a lot fo free throws from FSU. It just so happens, Coach Hamilton wants to get to the free-throw line as much as possible.



November 20, 6:30 pm, FOX

Usually, these mid-major teams can shoot the ball from outside. Chattanooga is no different, as they shot 36.5% from distance a season ago, good to be top-75 nationally. Chattanooga’s leading scorer and Southern Conference freshman of the year Kevin Easley announced his decision to transfer at the end of last season, meaning Donovann Toatley will take over scor… wait, he was kicked off the team for breaking team rules. That leaves Ramon Vila and Jerry Johnson Jr as Chattanooga’s returning leading scor… sorry Johnson graduate transferred to Arkansas State. Well, this roster won 12 games last season, but is losing a ton of production. At least they’re gaining a power conference transfer in… Matt Ryan (Notre Dame).

Oof. This roster is bad.


Saint Francis (PA)

November 23, 2:30 pm, ACC Network

Saint Francis is actually not a bad team. They were top 25 last season in total offensive rebounds, top 100 in points per game, and won their conference in the regular season, but lost to Fairleigh Dickinson in the Northeastern Conference Championship game. Guard Keith Braxton put up crazy numbers for them last season, averaging 16.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. That being said, if Florida State lets a 6’5″ guard grab ten rebounds on them, something will be flying through my TV. The Red Flash opens the season against VCU, a team FSU might play not long after this, so that game will be one to keep an eye on.

Florida State will win this game due to their size alone. Trent Forrest is just an inch shorter than their “power forward”. Expect a switch-heavy scheme defensively for the ‘Noles, and probably more RaiQuan Gray and Malik Osborne at the 5 than normal.


Chicago State

November 25, 7 pm, ACCNX

Normally, I’d be upset there’s only a day of rest between games, but Chicago State is BAD. The Cougars won three games last season: Trinity Christian, Eastern Illinois, and East-West University (this is actually a real school. Located in Chicago, EWU’s mascot is the Phantoms. It took me ten minutes to find all that out, sadly). Chicago State also lost its top two scorers from a season ago. The highest they finished in any metric was 191st in 2-pointers made, but they were 344th in 2-point%. Somehow, that’s not their worst statistic. They were second-lowest in both 3-pointers made AND attempted. That should mean at least an okay percentage, right? Since they aren’t taking a lot of 3s? Well, they were 341st nationally with a whopping percentage of 29.9%. Yuck.

I don’t really feel the need to say much else. FSU probably could win this game with their walk-ons in.


vs Tennessee

November 29, 7 pm, CBS Sports Network

The first round of the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, FL brings two name-brand programs head-to-head.

If this was last season, this is a must-see matchup. Tennessee was one of the best teams in the SEC last season, winning 31 games before losing to Purdue in the Sweet 16. Sadly for the casual basketball fans, but luckily for FSU, the Volunteers look nothing like last season. Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams, and Jordan Bone have all gone to the NBA, and role player Kyle Alexander is gone as well. Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner are Tennessee’s top returning scorers, both averaging just over 10 points per game.

The loss of Schofield, Williams, and Bone will be relieved slightly by the arrival of 5* freshman Josiah-Jordan James, who averaged 29 points per game last season in high school. He’s been battling a hip issue since arriving on campus though, and those can linger (speaking from personal experience). Tennessee will also have at least one transfer sitting out this season, and possibly a second which will limit their depth.

Tennessee is not unlike Florida State trying to replace a ton of production, I just think FSU has done a better job of building depth. This game still being in the state of Florida helps FSU’s chances.


vs Purdue/VCU

November 30, Time TBA, CBS Sports Network

It’s hard to predict who FSU will play here. Purdue/VCU should be a close game, but I think Purdue is the better team, despite losing their two leading scorers in Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline. They are a top-25 projected team and will get a scoring boost from High Point grad transfer Jahaad Proctor, who put up 19.5 PPG his last season. I don’t think Purdue will be a top 25 team, but they’ll be a top 5 Big Ten team.

VCU returned to the NCAA tournament after a little bit of a hiatus, and they will be returning 8 of the 9 players that played more than 14 minutes per game. The Rams had a great defense last season, finishing top-10 in scoring defense, and top-25 in turnovers forced. VCU would give a better fight to Florida State, but Purdue is probably a better team. FSU having a lot of depth will help them playing back to back games, as they can afford to give more minutes to the backups and not lose a ton of production.

WIN; Emerald Coast Classic Champion

at Indiana

December 3, 9 pm, ESPN2

This should be fun, but only for the fact it’s an away game at Indiana.

Indiana isn’t going to be that particularly great. They weren’t even that good with lottery pick Romeo Langford on the roster last year. The Hoosiers were the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big 10 last season, and lost arguably their best shooter in Juwan Morgan. This is a team that is going to win games by creating ugly games and abusing teams with their steady rotation of bigs. I don’t think they’ll be able to do that against a team like Florida State, who has the size advantage at every position, and FSU has better athletes at well. The only thing that’ll make this a close game is it being a road game, much like Rutgers two years ago.

The ACC/B1G Challenge brings such unique matchups, and this one is a must-see.



December 8, 2 pm, ACC Network

I mentioned in the ACC Preview that Clemson lost a lot of production while not adding anything to the team to relieve those losses. This isn’t even adding in the fact FSU has a new assistant coach who was on Clemson’s staff last season. FSU should win both games against Clemson comfortably, but the one in Tallahassee should be a blowout. I don’t know if it’ll be a 50-piece like it was in 2016/17, but I also wouldn’t be surprised.


North Florida

December 17, 8:30 pm, ACC Network

North Florida gave FSU a good run for their money last season. The Seminoles only won by 14, and it was a 10-point game with just over 5 minutes remaining. The “Birds of Trey”, as they’ve been dubbed, have gained a reputation as 3-point chuckers under head coach Matt Driscoll (one of my favorite non-power conference coaches). They lived up to that reputation last year, being top-50 in 3-pointers made and top-30 in 3-pointers attempted. Their percentage wasn’t great for the season, but they will absolutely make you pay if left open, something FSU did far too often in last season’s game. I think the coaching staff and remaining players will have last year’s game firmly in the back of their minds and not falter.


vs South Florida

December 21, 12 pm, FS2

This year in Florida State’s annual trip to the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, FL, FSU will take on USF.

The Bulls were solid, yet unspectacular last season, winning 24 games but only one over an NCAA tournament team (6-point win over Fairleigh Dickinson). They do return their top 5 leading scorers while they led the nation in free throw attempts, were 12th in total steals, 2nd in offensive rebounds, and 6th in total rebounds a season ago. Both players that averaged more than 5 rebounds per game are back as well.

As long as the Seminoles don’t get handsy and pick up dumb fouls, they should win this game, but USF is a sneaky team that might find their way into the Big Dance at the end of the season. This could be a more competitive game than the namesakes would say, but I still think FSU takes care of business.


North Alabama

December 28, 2 pm, ACCNX

North Alabama is losing two of their top 3 scorers from a team that was bottom 50 nationally in points per game last season. They were just under .500 in conference play in the Atlantic Sun (Florida Gulf Coast, North Florida, etc.), but their best non-conference win was… Huntingdon? Martin Methodist? Blue Mountain College? They only lost by 6 to Pittsburgh, but also lost to Samford by 17, so who knows how much of a fight they’ll put up. I’m not expecting much of one. Last season was also their first season as a Division 1 program, so coming off a first season winning ten games is a great start. This game for them is just one to get money and help build up the program.


Georgia Tech

December 31, 12 pm, ESPNU

The Yellow Jackets run such a wacky defense that this is going to be a low scoring game. They were 11th in opponent 3pt% so expect Florida State to want to get the ball inside as much as possible. Their defense makes you think you’re open from distance but they do such a great job of closing out. With the 3-point line farther back, it should generate better looks for offenses against GT, but most games will still be low scoring and scrappy. That being said, Georgia Tech’s offense will still be horrendous and the game is in Tallahassee.


at Louisville

January 4, 2 pm, ESPN2

This is a tough game. First game of the new year, Louisville is expected to be a top-3 team in the conference this year, but FSU always seems to play Louisville close. Since the start of the 2016/17 season, all 5 games have been within single digits. The Cardinals do have to play Kentucky the game before this one, so they could either be feeling really great or really bad depending on how that game goes, but there are enough days in between (the game against UK is December 28) that they can get a mental reset. FSU has been notoriously bad in road games in January, so I’ll mark this one down as a loss.


at Wake Forest

January 8, 7:30 pm, FOX

Luckily to reverse the trend of bad road games in January, FSU gets Wake Forest on the schedule next. Wake Forest is also bad, but they’ve got a few talented scorers that will make you pay if you sleep on them. The Seminoles saw this last season in Winston-Salem as the Demon Deacons stormed out to a 14-2 lead. Chaundee Brown and Brandon Childress should not be played around with, and they can give you buckets at any time. Wake was top-50 in total offensive rebounds last season, but also lost their best rebounder so I’m not exactly sure what to expect from them besides bad play.

With this game smashed between Louisville and Virginia, this is a must-win game to avoid a losing streak in the early part of the season. Even if FSU showed they can bounce back from bad starts, I’d prefer it not to happen.



January 15, 7 pm, ESPN2

Last time Virginia came to Tallahassee, Florida State dominated the first half and led by ten at halftime, before Virginia methodically chipped away and ended up winning by 4. Trent Forrest and MJ Walker haven’t forgotten about it, and I doubt the coaching staff has either. Virginia could be in for a championship hangover, although I doubt they will. Tony Bennett is too smart of a coach to let that happen. FSU was the last team to beat the Cavaliers, and I think FSU should be able to get the best of them in Tallahassee. Virginia will have already played Syracuse twice by the time Florida State gets to them, meaning we’ll see their shooting prowess early.


at Miami

January 18, 12 pm, ACC Network

Miami is going to be much better this season, and I feel like the only one who thinks that. Jim Larranaga’s squads are not ones to sleep on when they’re at full strength. Last season was a bad mix of having ineligible players and injuries, but I fully expect them to be right back in the mix. This game will be a toss-up. A rivalry game on the road coming off of a big game against Virginia, I would expect FSU to drop this one.


Notre Dame

January 25, 8 pm, ACC Network

Back-to-back games against teams that should be much better if they can stay healthy. Notre Dame gave Florida State all they could handle a season ago at home, despite a depleted roster. John Mooney is an incredible player and can take advantage of the few weaknesses Florida State has as a stretch big. FSU is more likely to split the season series against the Fighting Irish, and I like them to pick up this one at home.


at Virginia

January 28, 7 pm, ESPN

Last time Florida State played on the road at Virginia, it was an ugly, ugly game. 80% of the Seminoles’ normal starters were dealing with some sort of injury, and that led to the Cavaliers wiping the floor with the ‘Noles. The final score ended up not looking as bad due to our backups bullying their walk-ons. Playing at Virginia is a tough animal, so I’d expect the Cavs to come away with this one.


at Virginia Tech

February 1, 4 pm, FOX

Virginia Tech is bad, man. They might have a conference win by the time they get to Florida State, but I’m not so sure. The Seminoles have absolutely dominated this series as of late too, winning five straight, 8 of the last 10, and 10 of the last 13. Virginia Tech just doesn’t have anyone that can threaten FSU. It’s not even worth looking at how what areas of the game they were good at a season ago, because almost no one from last season’s team is still there.


North Carolina

February 3, 7 pm, ESPN

Florida State only gets a day of rest between traveling to Blacksburg and back to Tallahassee to play the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC will also be traveling to Tallahassee on just a day of rest, as they play Boston College February 1 in Chapel Hill. There won’t be much game-planning from either side, as trying to implement entirely new game plans in that short of time can overload the players. This game will come down to who is more talented, who can make the better adjustments, and who has the fresher legs after just playing two days ago from both sides. North Carolina wants to get up and down the floor, evidenced by having the 8th-fastest pace in the country last season. Trying to play that fast with such short rest is tough to do, which favors Florida State.

Because this game is in Tallahassee, I’ll take Florida State in a back and forth contest.



February 8, 12 pm, ACC Network

Riding off the North Carolina game, FSU will at least get some days to rest before taking on their rival for the second time of the season. Florida State has lost just once to Miami at home since 2015, I expect that trend to continue, as long as Chris Lykes doesn’t have a crazy game. In the past, we’ve seen FSU put their point guards in the post to let them abuse Lykes, but I’m expecting more 2-3 zone from the Hurricanes this season.


at Duke

February 10, 7 pm, ESPN

FSU has to turn around and play on the road against Duke just two days after playing a rivalry game. Again though, FSU’s opponent is put in the same situation, as Duke plays at North Carolina on February 8th. I don’t expect Florida State to win, but I do expect it to be a competitive game. The UNC/Duke rivalry is such an emotional game, that those emotions can spill over to the next game, especially if their next game is as close on the calendar as this contest is. This is already circled on everyone’s schedules, but FSU will see what they’re made of here.

Duke was top-35 in pace-of-play last season, and Coach K wants them to get up and down the floor, they just don’t have the athletes they did last season. They have more depth, but with no Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett, the transition game won’t be nearly as smooth (hopefully).



February 15, 12 pm, ESPN

FSU has torn the Syracuse 2-3 zone to pieces the last two seasons, scoring 80 last season, and 101 the season before (2OT game, but still a crazy amount of points). If Syracuse is sticking to their guns and their famous 2-3 defense, I’d expect a big win for FSU. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if they decided to run more man-to-man this game as Jim Boeheim has talked about doing all offseason, especially for this game. Florida State should win either way.

Syracuse was great at forcing steals and swatting shots last season, a trend I expect to continue. FSU is one of the biggest teams in the country though, so Syracuse’s length will be canceled out, at least a little bit.



February 18, 8 pm, ACC Network

The rematch against Pittsburgh comes at a good time, as FSU can beat up on mid-tier ACC teams before heading into March. Florida State will come out focused and ready to go for this game, especially if they drop the first game as I’ve predicted. Pitt will continue to try and make this an ugly game, but coming to play in the Tucker Center should be a tough challenge for the Panthers.


at NC State

February 22, 4 pm, ESPN

This is a game that could have huge seeding implications for the ACC Tournament. NC State is a trendy favorite to possibly burst the double-bye bubble amongst college basketball analysts, but I don’t think they’ll quite make it there. That being said, FSU has a tough 4 game stretch here, and needs to come away 2-2. If they can come away 3-1, they’ll be golden. Clemson and Notre Dame are the two most likely wins, but for some reason, I think FSU will win this one against the Wolfpack, and drop to Notre Dame.

It also turns out DJ Funderburk is indefinitely suspended due to NCAA investigations. If this turns into a Dewan Hernandez situation like at Miami last season, it would be a huge blow to the Wolfpack. Funderburk gave the ‘Noles issues in the past, and him being out long term could knock the Wolfpack down a seed or two.



February 24, 7 pm, ESPN

If FSU can find a way to win this game, it should lock up a top-4 seed if the schedule plays out how I think it will. They also have to play North Carolina just two days before, though. So while FSU’s three biggest games (besides Virginia) are after just a day of rest, at least their opponents have the same misfortune, and each time, FSU’s future opponent has a tougher game than the one FSU has (although arguing who is better between Boston College and Virginia Tech is like debating on if 2018 FSU Football or 2013 Florida Football is better, they’re both terrible). My gut is telling me Louisville, my heart is telling me Florida State.

Follow your heart.


at Clemson

February 29, 2 pm, FOX

Clemson still won’t be good, despite the three months of separation between games against FSU. They probably won’t be good next year either. This seriously could be the last season Brad Brownell coaches at Clemson, and that’s a shame because he’s given Clemson some minor success in his tenure.


at Notre Dame

March 4, 9 pm, ESPN2

Mike Brey is too good of a coach to let anybody sweep them. Last time FSU played in South Bend, they got snowed in and couldn’t fly back for a few days, so there are a lot of bad vibes surrounding this game. I don’t like FSU’s chances. Despite having a bad record last season, Notre Dame was still incredibly disciplined, committing the fewest fouls and third-fewest turnovers in the nation, so every point against the Irish is a tough basket.


Boston College

March 7, 4:30 pm, FOX

Boston College is also bad. Very bad. They were bad before Jordan Chatman had season-ending knee surgery. Add in that FSU has won 5 straight senior night games, as well as having a bad taste in their mouths from last season’s game against BC, I don’t see this one being close unless FSU has already locked up their ACC Tournament seeding and wants to give the backups some minutes.


Final Projected Record

25-6 (14-6)

Like I said in the opening, 14 conference wins should be good enough to get the ACC Tournament double-bye. The absolute worst-case scenario I see will be about 21-10 (12-8), and the absolute best-case scenario being 27-4 (16-4). FSU just has to stay healthy, especially at point guard. If Trent Forrest suffers another injury, it’s going to be hard to win those tougher games. For the most part though, Florida State got a really favorable schedule. I wish there were no game – off-day – game scenarios and FSU has three of them against their toughest opponents, but at least their opponents have to do the same.

This is a surprisingly down year for the ACC, and Coach Hamilton and his staff need to take full advantage and get themselves a great tournament seeding. The ACC tournament is impossible to predict. All of those back-to-back games leave weird matchups everywhere. I would expect Florida State to be the 4 or 5 seed, but I won’t predict past that.

The NCAA Tournament though… 25 wins plus maybe one or two more in the ACC Tournament should absolutely be good enough for a 3-seed (something they should’ve gotten last season). There’s a ton of potential for resume-building wins against Florida, Duke, Virginia (twice), North Carolina, Louisville (twice), at NC State, at Notre Dame… all of those should be Quadrant 1 games. Road games against Miami and Pittsburgh might also make their way into Quadrant 1 games. As long as FSU can take care of business everywhere else, they should be feeling really good about their postseason chances.

Concerning how far they’ll make it into March Madness is again hard to predict. They have a decent outside chance at a Final 4 appearance, but the most likely outcome is another trip to the Sweet 16. Three straight Sweet 16 appearances would be a first for the Florida State program, and making four straight NCAA Tournament appearances would be only the 2nd time in school history (2009-2012).

Fans should show out and be loud at every home game, but if you can’t make your way to Tallahassee for a game, see if there’s a road game in the area. This should be a special season, and Leonard Hamilton has built a program worth wanting to see. Most college basketball tickets are fairly inexpensive, save for Duke, UNC, and Virginia, but the team notices when fans don’t show up for every home game.

The next basketball article you will see on NoleGameday will be much lighter, and then it is all game previews, recaps, and breakdowns from there on out. The season is so close.

One Comment

  1. Jason Hormuth

    October 15, 2019 at 5:33 PM

    This is a tough non-conference schedule with all the tougher games being neutral site or away. But, I love the confidence. 14-6 is also a lot to ask in conference, but I also see the potential for us to turn some heads & make some real noise. ( Headline ) Noles leave a trail of scalped victims & a rotisserie gator on the way to the final 4. FEAR THE SPEAR!!!

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