Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tourney Preview: (8) Wake Forest vs. (9) Florida State

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The first game of the day also looks to be the closest, and it's the only one in which the TAPE favors the lower seeded team. While the result figures to be close, there's not a whole lot else that's all that compelling about it. Both are right at league-average in terms of defensive efficiency, with Wake giving up 1.0444 points per possession (6th in the ACC) and FSU allowing 1.0465 (7th) in conference play. Both are well below average offensively; FSU ranks 11th-best in league play at 0.9929 points per possession, and Wake isn't all that far ahead in 9th place at 1.0102 points per possession. All of this is a long way of saying that there's not much reason to believe the nooner will be a particularly well-played game.

Neither team has any significant advantages in any category, and neither team is especially well-suited to take advantage of the other's weaknesses. Wake won each of the two regular season meetings, beating the 'Noles 74-57 (66 possessions) on January 20 in Cigarette City and 78-70 (72 possessions) on Valentine's Day in Tallahassee. The first game was more evenly-played than the score would indicate, with Wake Forest winning essentially because they just shot the ball a little better than Florida State. The second game once again saw the Deacons get hot, this time from outside, and hold off the Seminoles despite FSU taking a whopping 21 more field goals than the Deacons (FSU rebounded 20 of their 46 reboundable misses for a whopping 43.48 OR% in the game).

It should be noted that while both teams are projected to take and make a similar number of three-pointers in this game, Florida State shot 26 and 27 three pointers in the first two games (making only 15 of them), while Wake took 28 in the two games combined (and made 14). Those are completely out of line with what each team did in their other games, so I'd be surprised if the trend continues.

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