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Heel Tough Blog: Florida State Preview

After starting the ACC season 0-2, Carolina has rallied off three straight victories, as this young team is learning how to win. Their next test is a steep one as they have to travel to Tallahassee, a usual house of horrors for Carolina, to take on the Florida State Seminoles. Of Carolina’s first 5 ACC games, Florida State is easily the best team they will have faced in terms of size, talent, depth, etc.

Carolina hasn’t played a complete game in their 3 game winning streak, but they’ve made the plays necessary to win. Against Syracuse they scored over 40 points in both halves for the first time all season long. While turnovers still plague this team, they’ve done a much better job limiting turnovers in the closing minutes. Another theme from the win over the Orange that Carolina is hoping will carry over is the play of Garrison Brooks; he recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Also, both Caleb Love and R.J. Davis made some perimeter shots, which the team will need against Florida State, and in general moving forward.

Leonard Hamilton may have had his best team last year, but was unable to compete in the NCAA Tournament due to the pandemic. He’s retooled his team, which is led by M.J. Walker and his 15.8 points per game. Add in standout freshman Scottie Barnes, and this is once again a team that is going to cause problems in the ACC, and in the NCAA Tournament. A lot like Syracuse though, the Seminoles haven’t played much since the start of the new year, as their only game in 2021 was a 105-73 win over NC State on Wednesday.

A win over Florida State would go a long way for this team, in terms of confidence as they're still trying to figure out who they are as a basketball team. For that to happen, Carolina will have to play their best game to date:

  1. Post Play: Florida State will pose the biggest challenge for Carolina with the size they’ll have on the interior. Carolina is one of the nation’s best rebounding teams, but will have to deal with the size of the Seminoles on Saturday. The average height of the Florida State roster is 6-8, and they have three players that are 6-11 or taller that will see the court. Like against Syracuse, the Tar Heels will need a veteran performance from Garrison Brooks.

  2. 3 Point Defense: Carolina’s three point defense has been up and down to say the least this season, but when they defend the perimeter, they usually win. Florida State as a team shoots 37% from behind the arc. If Carolina can contain Walker and Barnes, and make others beat them, they’ll have a shot to pull off the upset on the road. If not, it can be another long experience inside the Tucker Center.

  3. Turnovers: I know it feels like we talk about this every game, but it;s literally the difference between winning and losing for this team. Florida State’s length on the perimeter will be a challenge for a team that already struggles to make crisp, clean passes. If they don’t protect the basketball, it’ll be hard for this team to win. The Seminoles average 7.4 steals per game and force over 13 turnovers overall. The Tar Heels will need to limit those averages to win.

Series History: Carolina is 50-14 all time against the football school from the Sunshine State. In Tallahassee they are 17-7 overall, including 8-4 under Roy Williams. With that in mind though, Florida State has won the last two matchups in the Tucker Center.


UNC - 35th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.9 (59th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 91.0 (17th)

Florida State - 25th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.1 (14th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 93.3 (40th)


UNC - 55th.

Florida State - 42nd.

TV Info: Tomorrow’s road ACC game will tip off at 12, with ESPN carrying the broadcast.

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