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Heel Tough Blog: Florida State Preview


The final week of the regular season is here, and tonight Carolinaplays their final road game of the season, as they travel to take on Florida State. The Heels are coming off their best win of the season, as they took down #6 Virginia 71-63, to earn their first Quad 1 win of the season, as they trying to put together a resume for the NCAA Tournament. Given Florida State’s record, and with the season finale at home against Duke serving as another must-win for Carolina, tonight is a good old-fashioned trap game and a game that the Heels can’t afford to lose.

Florida State was poised to compete for the ACC regular season title this year, but after losing their season opener to Stetson, it has all gone wrong since November. The Noles enter with a very underwhelming 9-20 record on the season, but with a 7-11 mark in the ACC, shows you the struggles they had in the non-conference portion of the season. They are coming off an upset of #13 Miami over the weekend, as Matthew Cleveland hit a shot at the buzzer to take down the then-leaders in the ACC. Cleveland is one of four players to average double figures for Leonard Hamilton, at 14.3 points per game. Additionally, Darin Green Jr (13.9), Caleb Mills (13.0), and Cam’Ron Fletcher (10.8), all average double figures to produce the bulk of the offensive production, for a team that lacks production from its entire roster.

Hubert Davis expressed after beating Virginia that his team was locked in, in large part because of the tone set by the coaching staff after the win at Notre Dame earlier last week. They’ll need to have that same attention and focus tonight, because Florida State will enter tonight’s game as confident as they’ve been all season long, and will look to spoil UNC’s tournament hopes. Here’s how they can afford a loss that would make their NCAA Tournament path, that much harder:

  1. Come Ready to Play: The Tucker Center has historically been a tough place to play, but given the season that Florida State is currently experiencing, you would imagine it wouldn’t be as hostile. That might mean there are more UNC fans in the building but they can’t bank on that either. Saturday/Monday turnarounds are always difficult, but Carolina doesn’t have time for excuses, and they need to be ready to play from the opening tip, just like they were on Saturday against Virginia, where they took control of the game from the start. If Carolina comes out with that type of focus and attention and does not have to fight an uphill battle, that’ll give them a better chance to leave with a win.

  2. Build Off Saturday’s Offensive Performance: The type of offense we saw from Carolina in the first half against UVA won’t happen every time out, but UNC needs to build off the things they did well in the game on Saturday. Pete Nance was able to make perimeter shots, which opened up the game for others, primarily R.J. Davis, who had a bounce-back game. Of course, it all started with better shot selection and passing up a good shot for a great shot.

  3. Limit Turnovers: Had Carolina lost to UVA, we would’ve identified their 12 turnovers as a big reason why. The Heels have to protect the basketball, and not commit “pick-six” turnovers, which have cost them in almost every road defeat this season. On the flip side, they need to force turnovers, as Florida State does turn it over, almost 13 times per game.

  4. Defend 3 Point Line: As a team, FSU shoots just 33% from behind the arc, but their top two scorers, do shoot 38% from behind the three-point line. In a game like this, where Carolina can’t afford to lose, they have to be locked in defensively, and not let their shooters get quality looks from behind the arc. If the Noles are able to make double-digit three-pointers, it’ll give them a great chance to pull off another upset, and in the process, potentially knock UNC out of NCAA Tournament contention.

Series History: Carolina is 52-16 against Florida State all-time, including 42-15 since they joined the league back in the 1990s. In the Tucker Center, UNC is 17-8, although they haven’t won in Tallahassee since 2016.


North Carolina - 45th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.0 (58th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.2 (46th)

Florida State - 204th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 106.7 (160th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 108.9 (244th)


North Carolina - 47th.

Florida State - 216th.

TV Info: Tonight’s game will start at 7 PM on ESPN.

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