Game Preview: Boston College

Senior Day is here for Florida State, but this won’t be your normal senior day. With the rule that seniors will have their choice of whether or not they want to return for another year and not count against the scholarship limit due to COVID-19, not every senior will be recognized tonight.

FSU will officially recognize MJ Walker and RayQuan Evans, who haven’t decided if they’re returning or not (Evans is more likely to return than Walker), as well as walk-ons and green team legends Justin Lindner, Harrison Prieto, Travis Light, and Will Miles. It was announced yesterday that Tanor Ngom and Nathanael Jack told the staff they wanted to exercise their extra season. They should all get a little extra playing time against a really bad Boston College team.

This game will be at 9pm (why ACC) on the ACC Network, live from Tallahassee, FL.

Boston College Eagles (4-13, 2-9) Breakdown

I won’t spend a ton of time on Boston College, they just fired head coach Jim Christian after 7 seasons in Chestnut Hill, and promoted longtime assistant Scott Spinelli to interim head coach. In his first game as head coach against Notre Dame, they actually got a win. Between injuries, COVID, suspensions, and transfers, this team is a shell of its former self and will likely have to play a couple of walk-ons out of necessity.

Want to know what BC is? Good offense, horrendous defense. Scoring 72 points per game is nothing to look down on. Allowing 78 points per game is one of the worst marks this season in college basketball. They play one of the faster tempos in the country which allows them to score so many points, but because of that, they just lack effort on defense. All Boston College wants to do is shoot 3s. They’re first in the conference and 17th nationally in 3-point attempts per game. Luckily for Florida State, their two best shooters in Wynston Tabbs and Rich Kelly won’t play the rest of the season.

Jay Heath is their leading scorer, and he’s a really good player. With 14+ PPG and good shooting splits, he’s been really good since stepping on campus last season. BC has no trouble getting buckets, and Heath is the head of that storm. The only thing is, the next 2-3 leading scorers are either already out for this game or questionable and will be limited. Heath is going to have a heavy weight on his shoulders trying to lead BC to an upset. Capable shooter.

CJ Felder will be questionable for this game, but there’s a lot of smoke that he may transfer after the season. He’s a really talented player and has made some big plays as a sophomore. Solid 3-point shooter but is really poor from the free throw line. Felder is also the only good defender on a team with a lot of really bad defenders.

Steffon Mitchell is a really unique player. Can handle the ball, shoot, rebound… very skilled player for someone of his size. He’s not exactly efficient shooting the ball, but if you let him get around the rim, that’s where he does his best work. A skilled passer in the post, he’s going to be an interesting matchup for Balsa Koprivica, Tanor Ngom, and Malik Osborne.

The Langford brothers of Makai and DeMarr are solid scorers inside the arc, but have issues hitting from outside. Both play very similarly with their ability to create for others, slash to the rim, and solid rebounders for their size. Makai us the better of the two, but they’re both solid players.

Frederick Scott had missed most of the season with a knee issue, but he’s finding his way back in the rotation and is another capable scorer and shooter. Through just four games this season, he’s 4/9 from 3. Not as great of a rebounder for someone you’d want of his size, but his ability to stretch the floor is important to the offense.

No one else is really worth mentioning, outside of maybe James Karnik, who can be an okay rotational big.

Team Stats PPG/RPG (ORBs/DRBs)/APG/SPG/BPG/ToPG/FPG          FG%/3PT%/FT%

BC Produces: 72.7/33.1 (8.6/24.4)/11.8/7.3/4.1/12.9/16.5          42.6/33.3/70.9

BC Allows: 78.3/37.4 (9.5/27.9)/14.2/6.5/2.9/13.6/17.7          48.9/33.8/70.9

Player Stats

#5 Jay Heath 14.6/3.1/1.9/0.9/0.1/2.1/1.8                                  41.9/33.3/81.3

#1 CJ Felder 10.3/6.4/0.9/1.0/2.1/1.3/2.6                                  48.0/34.5/61.9

#41 Steffon Mitchell 9.1/7.3/1.5/1.4/1.0/1.3/2.2                        46.2/29.4/73.5

#4 Makai Ashton-Langford 9.1/3.3/2.9/1.8/0.1/1.5/3.4          38.1/23.8/65.8

#0 Frederick Scott 8.5/2.5/0.5/0.5/0.3/1.5/2.0                        57.1/44.4/54.5

#15 DeMarr Langford Jr. 6.9/4.1/1.5/1.1/0.0/1.7/1.5               42.3/25.0/77.3

#33 James Karnik 6.5/5.5/0.5/0.5/0.7/1.2/2.2                         43.9/28.6/64.3

#14 Kamari Williams 1.8/0.8/0.2/0.2/0.1/0.4/0.3                   26.9/25.0/100.0

#11 Florida State Seminoles (14-4, 10-3) Breakdown

I didn’t get a chance to discuss FSU’s collapse in the second half against UNC this past Saturday due to me being at the game and by the time I got home, Rick Ballou wanted to get in an argument about FSU’s seeding.

There are three main reasons FSU didn’t come away with a win Saturday evening: free throws, turnovers, and Walker Kessler. UNC came into the game as a 65% free throw shooting team, yet went 27/30 (90%) from the stripe, That’s a massive difference. If they shoot their normal percentage, you’re looking at 19.5 makes, so either a tie or UNC wins by 1.

The ‘Noles had played a picture perfect first half defensively, holding Carolina to 7/29 from the floor, 2/15 from 3, and 14 turnovers. UNC’s only offense in the first half was the free throw line, where they got 13 of their 29 points. The second half, their offense opened up while FSU’s offense faltered. 14 turnovers in the second half for FSU is not going to get it done. When they’re not turning the ball over, it’s a really efficient, smooth-flowing offense. Factor in turnovers and a ton of free throws on the other end, and it’s a lot to overcome.

Then there was Walker Kessler. UNC’s three leading scorers – Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks, and Day’Ron Sharpe – combined for just 13 points. Their two starting guards of Kerwin Walton and Caleb Love were each in double figures, but it was on 6/23 shooting. Just looking at those statlines, FSU would win that game 95 times out of 100, but Walker Kessler decided to have the greatest game of his life with 20 points on 9/10 shooting. When he made the 14-footer over Balsa Koprivica for his 20th points, I was astounded to look up at the scoreboard and see had that many, because it really didn’t feel like it. Him having 5 offensive rebounds was a big reason for his success.

Luckily, FSU is still in the driver’s seat to win the conference and get two games against two of the 4 worst teams in the conference, starting with Boston College.

This will be the last time we see some players in the Tucker Center, starting with MJ Walker. While he hasn’t made his intentions clear on whether he intends to come back or not, it’s hard to see him returning. Walker currently sits with am ACC Championship and a career 1002 points, 228 rebounds, 175 assists, 162 made 3s, and 36.1% from 3. His story isn’t over though, and he’s looking to add a Final Four to his lengthy resume.

RayQuan Evans is another guy that hasn’t decided if he’s returning or staying. I think he’s more likely to stay, but I wouldn’t be surprised either way. He’s had some really great games this season, and I think another season would do him really well.

Then there are the infamous Green Vipers of Justin Lindner, Harrison Prieto, Travis Light, and Will Miles. There are plenty of features, articles, and interviews about their importance to this team and I saw it firsthand. Besides bringing the energy from the bench and being great scout team executers, they are an extension of the coaching staff. In huddles, they’re talking with position groups about what they’re seeing and how they can take advantage in certain matchups, off the court they’re practicing opposing team’s plays to get their team ready and so they can know their opponents inside and out, they’re just really smart and knowledgeable about the game. Their impact stretches far past the “Classless Caucasian” moniker given to them by a Georgia Tech fan, they are the real heart and soul of this team.

With it being senior night, they’ll likely start many of the walkons, give them a couple of minutes, before we intentionally foul and let them return to the bench. They’ll get great reactions, I’m sure.

Injury Report

Florida State is healthy, Boston College is…. not.

Wynston Tabbs, their second leading scorer, is suspended for the season for violating COVID rules.

Rich Kelly, their third leading scorer, is out for the season following a foot injury and then subsequently entering the transfer portal.

CJ Felder, their fourth leading scorer, is questionable for this game after missing their last game with an unannounced injury.

James Karnik, a rotational big, is questionable for this game with COVID-19, but did play against ND.

Frederick Scott is finally starting to play again after missing most of the season.

Justin Vander-Baan is questionable, while Luka Kraljevic is out. The injuries for BC have been so bad this season that they usually have to tweet out a “these players are available” announcement right before the game.

Projected Starters

Florida State

G: Justin Lindner

G: RayQuan Evans

G: MJ Walker

F: Will Miles

F: Harrison Prieto

Boston College

G: Jay Heath

G: Makai Ashton-Langford

G: DeMarr Langford Jr.

F: Kamari Williams

F: Steffon Mitchell

Keys to the Game

BC Can’t Dictate the Tempo

If you let Boston College dictate their own tempo, it’s hard to slow them down. If you force them to take their time and work for good shots, you’ll force them out of their rhythm. Defensively, they want to get done with the possession as quickly as possible and will try and force some turnovers, they’re not going to foul and slow the game down though. The no fouling will be beneficial to FSU, but FSU needs to play at their own pace.

Let the Seniors Have Their Fun

Since this senior night is against Boston College, and not a top team like Virginia Tech a few seasons ago, the seniors will be able to go out there and have some fun, leave one more memory for fans to remember them by. Travis Light should have the ultimate green light, and MJ Walker should get the first points of the game. Give them a few extended minutes at the end of the game too.

3-Point Battle

Boston College takes a TON of 3s, being top 20 in 3PA per game. That’s one area where Florida State can be susceptible, and they’re going to have to be dialed in on the perimeter and limit their good looks from 3. While their percentages aren’t great, any team that can take a lot of 3s can make a lot of 3s.

Game Prediction

Florida State opened as a whopping 18.5-point favorite, with an over/under of 151.5.

FSU has been impressive in conference at home all season, outside of a couple of appearances. It’s senior night, the team is going to be mad after the UNC loss, and they’re going to want to prove a point. 18.5 is a massive point differential, and I usually don’t like taking a number like that. That being said, I’ll still take Florida State pretty big.

FSU 92-70.

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