ACC Tournament 2014: Previewing the rubber match between Maryland and Florida State

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

After beating the Noles by 12 in their last outing, Maryland hopes to ride a wave of emotions to a win over Florida State.

Maryland will try to build off their overtime win against Virginia Sunday when they take on Florida State in the second round of the ACC Tournament, their last as a member of the conference. The Terps and Noles split the season series, with each team winning their respective home game.

Florida State finished ACC play with a 9-9 record, just like Maryland, but the Terps owned a tie breaker that gave them the eight seed and FSU the 9th (which could mean Maryland will wear their white Maryland pride jerseys). The Noles were very similar to Maryland in that they beat the bad teams in the conference (Virginia Tech, BC, Wake, Georgia Tech), but struggled with the upper echelon teams (Duke, Syracuse, Virginia).

Earlier in the year, they picked up victories over VCU (85-67), a top-25 UMass team (60-55) and at Clemson (56-41), with their earlier losses coming against Michigan, Florida, and Minnesota. Kenpom ranks the Noles as the 39th best team nationally, while Maryland is 46th. In other words, they're very close to each other in KenPom's eyes.

FSU was hurt in their loss to Maryland by the absence of senior guard Ian Miller, who also missed the previous game against Virginia Tech. Miller is back in the fold now, but FSU only went 4-3 once he was back on the court.

Players to watch

Ian Miller, 6'3", senior. Miller is one of the Seminoles' leading scorer, at 13.7 points per game, getting to the hoop (and the free throw line) often. He also leads the team in assists, but turns the ball over at a high rate. He's their best free throw shooting and is shooting 40% from beyond the arc.

Okaro White, 6'8", senior. White is Florida State's tallest player who plays at least half of the team's minutes, which means there could be some interesting size matchups on the inside (and the outside). White is an extremely effective scorer, shooting 52% from two, 32% from three and 79% from the line while also providing solid work on the boards (6.6 per game, leading the team).

Aaron Thomas, 6'5", sophomore. The leading scorer, at 14.1 points per game, Thomas is also a major defensive threat who will cause a whole lot of turnovers. He records a steal on 3% of opponent possessions -- ranking 180th in the nation -- and is a major part of Florida State's defense-first mentality. On the offensive end, he also drives to the lane with frequency, getting fouled a lot and making 84.4% of his free throws.

Boris Bojanovsky, 7'3", sophomore. Bojanovsky has been playing more as of late, and for good reason -- he's the tallest player on the team, the most efficient offensive player and the team's best shot-blocker. He brings a rare skill-set for a seven-footer, shooting the ball well from the floor (59.6%). His free throw percentage has dropped from over 70% earlier in the season to 67%, while also ranking 35th in the nation by blocking 9.8% of opponent shots while he's on the floor. He's playing only 51.1% of the team's minutes due to foul trouble, but is a major presence on both ends when he's in the game.

Robert Gilchrist, 6'9", sophomore. Florida State has been using a big lineup lately, with White at small forward, Bojanovsky at center and Gilchrist at power forward. Gilchrist is a good rebounder, especially on the offensive end, but is a terrible free throw shooter and doesn't add too much on either end of the floor. He' scored a combined three points in the team's previous games this season.

Montay Braydon, 6'7", sophomore. Speaking of big lineups, Braydon has been playing shooting guard in that rotation. Unfortunately for Florida State, he's not a very good shooter, and has the lowest two-point shooting percentage on the team. His biggest strength offensively comes in his ability to get to the free throw line, but he shoots just 62% when he gets there. Braydon also turns the ball over quite a bit, without a high assist rate to back it up.

Devon Bookert, 6'3", sophomore. Bookert splits time with Miller at point guard, and has been used frequently in the Braydon-White-Gilchrist-Bojanovksy lineup. He's second on the team in assists, just behind Miller, and the two guards turn the ball over at around the same rate. Bookert is another defensive threat on the 'Noles, forcing turnovers and not getting called for many fouls. On the offensive end, he takes a ton of threes but does not hit many.

Strengths

Defense. It's been the mantra since Leonard Hamilton took over in Tallahassee, leading to a streak of four straight tournament appearances that ended last season. This year is no different, style-wise, as the Seminoles rank 57th in the nation in defensive efficiency, 24th in opponent effective field goal percentage and 16th in opponent two point percentage.

Weaknesses

Defensive rebounding, three-point shooting, turnovers. Florida State uses some big rotations, but their only two seven-footers (Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo) get in a lot of foul trouble, leaving them in a tough bind sometimes on the glass. They don't take a whole lot of three pointers, but they don't make them too often when they do, either. Their biggest problem? Letting opposing teams get offensive rebounds. They rank 339th in opponent offensive rebounding percentage. They turn it over more often than Maryland, on 20.7% of their offensive possessions.

Prediction

KenPom prediction: Basically, they have this game as a tossup, giving FSU a 52% chance of winning by 1, 72-71. Almost the exact same prediction they had for their last meeting in College Park, which Maryland won by 12.

Our prediction: Maryland, 74-65. Maryland is going to be dealing with a lot of emotions in this game and I think they'll respond favorably, especially after the Virginia win.

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