What: Davidson vs Florida State, NIT First Round
When: Tuesday, March 15 @ 7:00 pm ET
Where: The Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Florida
The Davidson Wildcats head south to take on FSU in the first round of the NIT. The winner of this game will play the winner of Valparaiso and Texas Southern in the second round at the location of the lower seeded school. This is a tough matchup for Davidson, as the Seminoles have a dangerous mix of experience, size, and athleticism. Florida State finished the season 19-13, with only an 8-10 record in the ACC. They won their first conference tournament game over Boston College before falling the next day by 11 to Virginia Tech.
Florida State Players of Note:
Dwayne Bacon – Bacon is a super athletic freshman 3/4 wing who is Florida State’s highest usage player. Standing at 6’7″, Bacon is an excellent scorer and defensive rebounder, who is among the best in the nation at drawing fouls and getting to the line.
Boris Bojanovsky – Despite not being a starter, Bojanovsky is an interesting case solely because of his size – and his block rate. Standing at 7’3″, Bojanovsky boasts the #15 block rate in the entire nation. The size doesn’t stop there for Florida State, a they also have a player (Chris Koumadje) who is 7 foot 4 inches tall (!!!), but only gets a small amount of minutes each game.
In a non-conference game earlier this season, Davidson took on Central Florida and their 7’6″ center Tacko fall. By constantly doubling the post and daring UCF to kick the ball out and hit some threes, Davidson defended quite well against Fall and the Knights, notching a 5 point home win. However, Central Florida’s size really hurt Davidson on the offensive boards, and that is what they have to watch out for tonight against Florida State. Also, Davidson had Jake Belford healthy for that game, and he did a great job of staying in the paint, walling off Tacko Fall, and not allowing him to easily get to the rim. With Belford not available, Andrew McAuliffe and Nathan Ekwu must step up and play really good defense.
Defending the post isn’t the only place of concern for Davidson, as Florida State features a number of very athletic guards and wings who can drive to the hoop and score in the paint. A piece of good news for the Wildcats is that they have an edge in shooting. Florida State hits threes right at the national average percentage, and takes a below average number of them every game. I expect Davidson to pack the paint and dare Florida State to shoot over them. I think if this game turns into a shooting contest or a glorified game of H.O.R.S.E. it will favor the Wildcats.
As I talked about in Davidson’s Three Keys to the NIT article, the Wildcats have to get off to a good start and utilize their post players if they want to hang with Florida State. Nathan Ekwu and Peyton Aldridge will be the keys early to keeping Davidson in the game, as they will rely on their outside shooting and transition offense from there to keep pace with the Seminoles.