Teams: Syracuse Orange (12-5, 1-3) vs. Florida State Seminoles (12-4, 1-3)
Day & Time: Saturday, January 13, 2018, 2 p.m. ET
Location: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network (check your local listings)/ACC Network Extra
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Florida State blog: Tomahawk Nation
Rivalry: 7-2, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Orange
First Meeting: Syracuse headed down to Tallahassee and ran through FSU, 90-69. Billy Owens scored 23 points, while Derrick Coleman picked up 12 boards. The ‘Noles didn’t have much of a chance from the beginning and weren’t exactly the class of the old “Metro Conference.” The Metro was actually pretty cool, if you don’t recall (or never read about it). It’s worth looking into, especially the part where SU was almost part of it.
Last Meeting: SU beat FSU 82-72 last year, its first of two straight top-10 upsets at the Dome (the second being Virginia). Andrew White III and Jon Gillon both topped 20 points, and Tyler Lydon grabbed 11 boards. Orange fans rushed the court afterward — appropriate, in this case, since the ‘Noles were then ranked sixth in the polls.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,016-362); Florida State: Leonard Hamilton (16th year, 316-200)
Coach Bio: The Gastonia, N.C. (home of Moe Neal!) product wrapped up his playing career at UT-Martin, then jumped right into assistant coaching at Austin Peay. He served on that staff for a few years, before an extended stint at Kentucky, where he stayed from 1974 through 1986. After a few years leading Oklahoma State to the NIT, Miami brought him aboard and he turned that program into something resembling its modern success. Hamilton would jump to the Washington Wizards briefly, before heading back to college to coach FSU. He’s turned the ‘Noles into a perennial tourney contender, making the NCAAs five times and winning the 2012 ACC Tournament.
Last Year: Led by Dwayne Bacon, FSU was a top 25 pretty much all season. They finished second in the ACC, but fell to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the league tournament. After being tested far too well by Florida Gulf Coast in round one of the NCAAs, they ran into the buzzsaw that was Xavier in round two. FSU lost 91-66 and there was a lot of roster turnover shortly thereafter.
Last Game: Florida State was up double digits on Louisville at halftime, then came undone in a disaster of a final 20 minutes. The Cardinals outscored them 41-24 after the break and won 73-69. The defeat ended FSU’s 28-game home winning streak and plunged them to 1-3 in league play. Terance Mann and Braian Angola were the only players to score in double figures for the ‘Noles.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Florida State has a pretty balanced attack, so focusing in on just one player isn’t advisable. However, it you did so, Mann’s your... man. He’s the team’s leading scorer with about 15 points per game, including 25 in the outing vs. Louisville. Though he’s not dangerous from outside (but did go 2-for-2 last game), the guard shoots over 61 percent from the floor and is a highly effective rebounder as well.
Jack Ferguson Memorial Random Three-Point Performance: Too many people get minutes on this team to be truly “random.” But maybe keep an eye on M.J. Walker as a regular rotation guy who hits at a 38-percent clip from outside. Your completely random outburst could belong to PJ Savoy, who’s 18-of-53 on the year, but would seem like the type whose tape gets completely ignored on our end, making for a pointlessly big afternoon.
If Syracuse Wins: That’s the major road win we’ve been looking for! FSU may be in a bit of a tailspin at the moment, but they’re still playing very well and do seem like a top-25 caliber team this season. It’s also not an easy place to win, especially evidenced by the streak that just ended there. A 2-3 record in league play is far from insurmountable on our end.
If Syracuse Loses: Not necessarily shocking, but would still be pretty problematic for our odds to make the NCAA Tournament. Manageable games after FSU would become must-wins and we’d still need to close at probably no worse than 8-5 (unless a lesser record also included a couple nice road upsets).
Fun Fact No. 1: SU’s 7-2 record against Florida State is its second-best winning percentage vs. any current ACC team. The only one better is the 5-1 record versus Wake Forest — though the Deacons just picked up their first-ever win over the Orange this season. A loss to FSU would mean a tie between the ‘Noles and NC State for second, both possessing 3-7 records against Syracuse.
Fun Fact No. 2: The Washington Wizards have had 24 head coaches, of which Hamilton was the 18th. Despite serving just 82 games (one full season), he still held the role longer than 11 (!!!) other coaches in franchise history. Also, no Wizards coach has served five full seasons or more since Wes Unseld, who had the job from 1988-94.