NO. 18 VIRGINIA (18-3, 5-2 ACC) AT NO. 24 FLORIDA STATE (15-6, 6-1 ACC)
Time/TV: 1 p.m./ESPN3, ESPN Full Court
Location: Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla.
Virginia 41 (No. 4 ACC)
Florida State 26 (No. 3 ACC)
Line: Florida St -4.5 (o/u 116)
Virginia Players to Watch: F Mike Scott, 6-8 Sr. (17 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 58.2% FG); G Joe Harris, 6-6 So. (12.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 40% 3s); G Jontel Evans, 5-11 Jr. (6 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.8 spg). Evans is fifth in the ACC at 3.5 assists per contest. He has six assists in Tuesday’s 65-61 home win over Clemson for his eighth game this season with five or more dishes.
Florida State Players to Watch: F Bernard James, 6-10 Sr. (10.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.2 bpg); G Michael Snaer 6-5 Jr. (14.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 44.5% FG); C Xavier Gibson, 6-11 Sr. (7.7 ppg, 5 rpg, 49.2% FG). Snaer erupted for 16 points in the second half of the Seminoles’ 68-54 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday. Flroida State’s leading scorer on the season finished with a game-high 21 points.
Storylines: Nearly halfway through the ACC season, the Seminoles and Cavaliers are in contention for the league’s regular-season championship. FSU is currently tied with North Carolina and Duke atop the conference standings at 6-1 and has beaten the Blue Devils and Tar Heels this season. After a loss at Clemson to open conference play, the Seminoles have won six straight. Virginia is a game back of the trio at 5-2. After a disappointing home loss to Virginia Tech (the Hokies’ only ACC win to date) on Jan. 22, Virginia has won three straight.
Keys: The game will be all about defense. The Seminoles and Cavs have arguably the nation’s two best defensive teams. Virginia leads the ACC and is second in the country, giving up 51.1 points per game (8.9 points better than Clemson, which is the ACC’s second-best). The Seminoles lead the conference and are third in the nation, surrender 37 percent to their opponents. Both teams allow less than 30 percent from the 3-point line. Virginia is second in the ACC (27 percent) and the Seminoles are third (28.3) in 3-point defense. Both teams are very good on the boards. The Cavs are second in the ACC with a plus-6.2 rebounding average and FSU is second with 38.6 boards per game. Florida State is eighth in America with 6.1 blocked shots per game and are 28th with 8.9 steals per contest, which leads the ACC. Virginia is 5-1 in true road games this season, including wins at Oregon, LSU, North Carolina State and a 32-point win at Georgia Tech. Florida State is 10-1 in Tallahassee, including a 90-57 win over then-No. 3 North Carolina. FSU’s lone home loss was in triple-overtime on Dec. 30 against Princeton.
The Bottom Line: The Cavs are going to have a really, really tough time scoring. Expect Florida State to try to get out and run to create easy buckets and pull away for a big victory.
The Pick: Florida State 65, Virginia 48
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 55-29