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FSU Basketball Season Preview: Schedule Predictions

We’ve reached the final week of our 2020/2021 basketball season preview for Florida State, and this week is my favorite to do. If you missed any of the previous parts, you can check them out by clicking the links below.

Week 1: Returning Players

Week 2: New Bloods

Week 3: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Question Marks

Week 4: ACC Preview

And now to our final part: the schedule analysis, where I go through game-by-game and predict whether it’s a win or loss. Last season, I predicted the ‘Noles would finish 25-6, which was ambitious for most people’s takes at the time. In turn, Florida State came out and put together one of the best seasons in program history by going 26-5.

On a broad level, Florida State’s schedule sets up incredibly. Most of the tough games are at home, including all of the non-conference games being at home, where FSU hasn’t lost a non-conference home game since December 2014. There are only two instances of game-off day-game, and only one of them is really brutal. The first 6 games are all at home including 7 of the first 8. UNC is the only particularly tough team they play twice. The projected top two finishers in the ACC, Virginia and Duke, both have to play FSU in Tallahassee. There are not many chances for big wins on the road, so FSU is going to have to take care of business at home to build a strong resume. Given that fan support has just now been picking up, them being at just 25% capacity won’t hurt them as much as it will Duke or UNC. They’re sort of used to playing in gyms with some empty seats.

With all of that out of the way, onto the schedule. No times or TV broadcasts are available at the time of this writing, as they become available, they will be updated in this article. For a lot of this article, I’ll be referencing my ACC preview, which is linked at the top.

Gardner-Webb

Friday, November 27, 3pm (EDIT: POSTPONED)

Gardner-Webb is just two seasons removed from making a run to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big South conference. Like most mid-majors, they are great at shooting the basketball (36.0% from 3 last season), but undersized. They only return one of their four double-digit scorers from a season ago, and just two days before this game play at Duke. Tough opening slate for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

FSU got a scare from Western Carolina last season after WCU got hot from 3, but I think they’ve learned from that. This is a good tune up game. Just control the glass, limit open looks from 3, and keep the foot on the gas on offense.

WIN

EDIT: Really COVID? Already?

North Florida

Wednesday, December 2, 9pm

Similarly to Gardner-Webb, this is another team that will light you up from 3 if you let them. Coach Matt Driscoll gives everyone on the roster the green light, and they deliver. Last season, the Ospreys led all Division 1 teams with 1031 3-point attempts, 391 3-point makes, and were 16th in 3-point percentage at 37.9%. They take an insane amount of 3s, but if you force them off of the line, their sets usually break down. Their leading scorer, Carter Hendricksen, returns, but their next five leading scorers from last season all graduated. They also have to open up the season @NC State and @Miami before traveling to Tallahassee. There will at least be a decent amount of film to breakdown before FSU takes them on.

This is a good test for the young guys to see how sharp their defensive rotations are. UNF also moves the ball extremely well, so rotations are going to have to be crisp. The Ospreys have given FSU some battles over the last few years, but FSU should still overpower them for most of the game.

WIN

Indiana

Wednesday, December 9, TBA

FSU’s been wanting this one back.

These two played last season, and Indiana ended up taking the game 80-64, but it was a 5-point game with just over 5 minutes left. Florida State had been tired following the grueling Emerald Coast Classic tournament win just two days before, and just ran out of gas at the end.

Devonte Green, who exploded for a career high 30 points off of the bench in the first matchup, has graduated and Justin Smith, who had 14 points, has transferred to Arkansas. However, they do bring in five-star point guard Khristian Lander, who is a smooth lefty that can get to the basket with ease. They also return Trayce Jackson-Davis, who has a solid chance to be All-Big 10 this season.

Indiana has improved every season under Archie Miller, and I expect them to be a Top 25 team for most of the season. Both team should be well-rested coming into this game too. Indiana will be in the Maui/Asheville Invitational the weekend before, but have a full week of rest coming off of that tournament.

This should be a hotly contested game, but there are few motivating factors like revenge in sports. If FSU wants to win, they’ll have to keep Indiana off of the free-throw line and off of the glass.

WIN

Florida

Saturday, December 12, TBA

Ha. Hahahahahaha.

WIN

In all seriousness, Florida should be much improved. Even though they lose Andrew Nembhard and Kerry Blackshear, this is an addition by subtraction. Not saying they’re bad players, but those two forced a style of play that didn’t really fit the rest of the roster. With guys like Scottie Lewis, Tre Mann, Keyontae Johnson… these are all guys that need to get out running as much as possible, and with Nembhard gone, that should be the case. However, Mike White remains their coach.

Their point guard rotation is legitimately great, between Tre Mann, Cleveland State transfer Tyree Appleby, and Ques Glover. Keyontae Johnson is one of the best returning players in the country, and might be a top-ten pick in the NBA Draft next season. They’ve got a little more depth than you’re used to seeing out of this team and this will probably be a really close game.

However, Mike White remains their coach, and FSU has won six straight against Florida for a reason.

WIN

Georgia Tech

Tuesday, December 15, TBA

I’m higher on Georgia Tech than a lot of people. They return basically everyone, they have a tricky defense, and have shown they can win some games in the conference with this squad. If you show up moving slow, making slow decisions, and not making the few open jump shots you get in this game, it will be a long day.

Florida State has somewhat figured out the formula to beating the Yellow Jackets though, and it’s shown. FSU has won the last 4, and 14 of the last 16.

FSU makes it 5 in a row against GT.

WIN

UCF

Saturday, December 19, TBA

I’ll keep this one brief. About a week ago, I heard from one source that “FSU should win by 50.” And this was from someone not in FSU’s program.

So.

WIN

@Clemson

Tuesday, December 29, TBA

How much do you y’all think this play will be shown in the film room and in text threads over the break before this game?

This is definitely a prototypical “trap game” given that it’s the game before Duke. Clemson is also a much-improved team, in my opinion. I think they’ve got a little more depth, and a little more overall talent that fits the roster; I had them finishing 6th in the conference this year.

Clemson even has a chance to become a tournament team, so this could be an important road game for FSU to boost their resume. I think they escape Clemson smirking under their masks.

WIN

Duke

Saturday, January 2, TBA

Speaking of shots the team will be shown over and over leading into the game…

This game still haunts me. This shot still haunts me.

Despite that, this is the last time FSU lost at home. By the time FSU tips off the season, they will not have lost a game at home in 696 days.

Both of these teams are deep, and both of these teams have something to prove. The last few games between these teams have been heavyweight boxing matches, and I don’t see that changing here. How Jeremy Roach responds to being pressured on the road is going to be a big key in this game.

I went back and forth with this one for most of the past week, I think the Tuck is going to bring out some more magic.

WIN

@Syracuse

 Wednesday, January 6, TBA

Coming off of what I’m predicting to be two emotional games, either of these next two are droppable games. Especially given the history playing at both of these schools.

All time, FSU is 2-4 when playing in the Carrier Dome for basketball purposes, although the ‘Noles took care of business in a dominating win in 2019. I don’t see this game playing out the same. This is one of those games that if FSU is cold shooting from 3, or whoever the put in the middle of the 2-3 zone makes slow decisions, they could be in for a long game.

How this game goes will tell a lot about FSU and their maturity, but I do think they drop one of these two games between Syracuse and Pitt. This game is more easily losable because all it takes is a bad shooting night.

LOSS

@Pittsburgh

Saturday, January 9, TBA

This is another place where FSU doesn’t have great history; just 1-8 all time at Pitt. The only thing is, Pitt is even worse than last season’s team. I think the loss up there last year will bring a different mindset on this trip. It’ll be another game where if FSU gets in quick foul trouble and can’t get consistent offense, it might be another really tough game. There’s no question who the more talented team is.

I think Florida State will come ready to attack in this game.

WIN

NC State

Wednesday, January 13, TBA

No team that has a starting lineup featuring 6’0″ shooting guard Braxton Beverley will beat Florida State, change my mind.

Even if they don’t start him, they just aren’t a deep enough or experienced enough team to not have to rely on him. I’m not saying this will be an easy game; DJ Funderburk might give FSU some serious issues down low. But when there’s such a clear gameplan…

WIN

North Carolina

Saturday, January 16, TBA

This is not last season’s Tar Heel team. And even that Tar Heel team gave FSU a down to the wire battle.

Carolina is loaded this season, and much more well rounded. They’ve got a four headed monster in the post between Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Walker Kessler. All of them are versatile and can attack in many different ways. It’ll be an extremely deep scouting report for FSU on how they want to handle their front-court. They aren’t all towering players, but this style of player is something the ‘Noles won’t see in any other opponent.

Despite this size, they still all play really fast and get up and down the floor extremely well. FSU is on par with the Tar Heels in terms of talent, but the matchup is bad and always has been bad, dating back almost the entire last decade.

I think the home game winning streak might end here.

LOSS

@Louisville

Monday, January 18, TBA

The main thing with these big Monday games is how the game before sets up. FSU has a tough game against a fast team at home before having to travel to face Louisville. On the other hand, the Cardinals play at Miami on Saturday before traveling back home. Miami is another team that likes to play fast, but they’re not on the same level of UNC. There’s not a big enough difference to say that another team has a bigger advantage on this front.

The next priority is health, which is a huge question mark given COVID-19 and the variable that brings in, as well as Louisville having two players out for at least the first six weeks of the season. Charles Minlend is out six weeks to start the season, so he’ll just be coming back into form by the time this tips off. Big man Malik Williams is out for 12 weeks, which would mark him out for this game. Louisville is already not a deep team, and them losing size against Florida State is a bad mix.

WIN

Clemson

Saturday, January 23, TBA

Getting five days of rest for a big game at home, I think this is a little bit easier of a game for Florida State than the game at Clemson. The amount of rest they get before going against Clemson both times has to have the Tigers a little upset. Maybe they can have the ACC intervene and try to force a forfeit. Or something like that.

Fun fact, Florida State has played no one more than Clemson dating back to the 1949/50 season, a total of 75 games. Florida State has also not lost at home to Clemson since February 2015. I don’t see much changing here.

WIN

Miami

Wednesday, January 27, TBA

I’m not as high on Miami as most. I think they have some talent, but it’s still a very shallow team. One injury or one COVID positive, and this is a much different looking team. As long as Chris Lykes is on this team, Florida State has someone to attack while they’re on offense. The big problem will be finding a way to contain him, since he was voted as the toughest player to guard in the conference.

Florida State has won their last 5 and 7 of the last 8 against the ‘Canes. Nothing changes.

WIN

@Georgia Tech

Saturday, January 30, TBA

Like I said for the home game against Georgia Tech, this is a tougher team than people give them credit for. If FSU travels to Atlanta with cold shooting, they could be in for a long 3-game road trip. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me at all if the ‘Noles were to fall on the road here.

That being said, Georgia Tech has to play at Virginia and at Duke the two games before this game. Safe to say their morale might be down.

WIN

@Boston College

Tuesday, February 2, TBA

This game starts a three game stretch against my three worst teams in the conference, so I won’t spend too much time on these.

Boston College brings in four key transfers that are all expected to contribute a lot to this team. How well they contribute is another story, considering three of them came from low major schools. Getting Wynston Tabbs is big for them, though.

WIN

@Virginia Tech

Tuesday, February 9, TBA

This team was solid for the first half of last season, then Landers Nolley’s efficiency dove off of a cliff.

Landers Nolley isn’t even with the team anymore to try and get back to where he was to start last season. It’s another mix of transfers and guys that can really shoot the basketball. The bad thing is, they are really tiny. The Hokies’ starting lineup will look something like 6’0″, 6’1″, 6’3″, 6’4″, 6’9″. Four of their starters are either as tall or shorter than the shortest scholarship player at Florida State, and their starting center is the same height (and almost same weight) as Florida State’s point guard.

Mismatch. Across the board.

WIN

Wake Forest

Saturday, February 13, TBA

Wake Forest is just bad. They might win three conference games. And it won’t be this one.

I don’t really have anything else to add. It’s at home. It’s Wake Forest.

WIN

Virginia

Monday, February 15, TBA

Then for the second and final Big Monday game- Virginia. My favorite to win the conference, mostly because of their schedule. I mean, just look at their conference slate.

They have a solid non-conference slate, playing Florida, Villanova, and Michigan State. The conference slate is embarrassingly easy. By the time the Cavaliers travel to Tallahassee, they might have one conference loss. And that’s a strong might.

Virginia also plays the Saturday before, but instead of playing a weaker opponent, like Florida State does, they have a home game against UNC. UNC will do their best to gas them up and down the floor, something FSU will try and do as well.

Sam Hauser will open up a lot for their offense. Instead of having a limited offensive threat in Mamadi Diakite being one of the blockers in their offense, they can put Hauser there, who will read and react faster to situations and pop open faster for quick shots. Their frontcourt of Hauser and Jay Huff won’t be as intimidating on the defensive side, where I think Hauser will be late sometimes on backside rotations, where FSU might be able to get a couple of lobs in.

This will be an ugly slugfest. The fact that FSU will be able to stretch their bench the game before and save their best for Virginia means I think FSU pulls away with a really close one. Like, 51-50 close.

WIN

Virginia Tech

Saturday, February 20, TBA

FSU will have just played them two weeks before, and I don’t see much changing unless the Hokies find 5 mid-season transfers that have some size to them.

WIN

@Miami

Wednesday, February 24, TBA

This game could really go either way, especially if Miami lives up to their expectations and stays healthy. All it takes is for Lykes to have an insane game, while some of these role players like Kameron McGusty, Harlond Beverly, and Isaiah Wong step up. I’m also interested to see how newcomers Earl Timberlake and Nysier Brooks perform; their contributions could go a long way towards ACC success.

This is a game FSU has to win. With an extremely tough competition following this game at UNC, they can’t afford to possibly drop two in a row heading into March and the ACC Tournament. The ‘Noles will play with a sense of urgency. What that does to their play will dictate the outcome. This game really could go either way.

WIN

@North Carolina

Saturday, February 27, TBA

This is Florida State’s toughest road game by a healthy margin. A win marks an impressive resume builder in a season where there isn’t a ton of chances to do this on the road. A loss just means you’re doing what’s expected. FSU has had horrible luck in the Dean Dome dating back… forever. Florida State is 4-21 all-time when playing in Chapel Hill, with just one win coming since 2000.

I expect this to be a closely contested battle, especially given that UNC will be playing with limited fans, if they have any fans at all. That being said, this is the one truly expected loss on the schedule. Everything else is up in the air.

LOSS

Boston College

Wednesday, March 3, TBA

I mean it’s “senior” day against Boston College. Nothing new.

WIN

@Notre Dame

Saturday, March 6, TBA

I don’t like these late-season slates against Notre Dame. Especially on the road, they’ve done it to FSU the last few seasons. This is a game where you just look at it on a base level and go “Oh, well that’s a win.” This should be a really close game though, I’m not expecting a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination.

Coach Mike Brey will have had all season to tinker with lineups and develop his younger guys. The Irish should be in prime form for this game. Is that going to be enough to beat Florida State? Maybe, but as for now I don’t think so.

WIN

Final Prediction

If FSU takes care of business at home and doesn’t lose any dumb games on the road, you’re looking at a 24-1/23-2 record. If this team gets hit with COVID, focus, and injury issues, this team’s floor is about 18-7. I bounced back and forth between 22-3 and 21-4 ever since the schedule came out, but eventually settled on 22-3, just because of the way the schedule sets up. There are no really tough stretches, and those parts that are tough are definitely manageable. I think there’s enough veteran leadership and young talent to be a really high seed again come March.

22-3 (17-3); 3-Seed or Better in NCAA Tournament


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