The Daily Nole

Preview: FSU Covets Road Win in South Bend

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A win on Saturday could go a long way in helping Florida State get back to the NCAA Tournament. Fresh off a tough 59-55 loss to No. 2 Virginia, the Seminoles will be heading north to take on a Notre Dame team that is not having the season it expected.

With star Bonzie Colson on the shelf, the Fighting Irish are 14-10 for the season and just 4-7 in ACC play. Notre Dame however, is coming off a home victory over Boston College after dropping its previous seven games. The Fighting Irish and Seminoles met three times last season with each winning at home and Notre Dame beating FSU in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

The Match-Up

Who: Florida State Seminoles (17-7, 6-6 ACC) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-10, 4-7 ACC)
When: Saturday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. EST (ESPN2)
Where: Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana

Key Players

For Florida State: Despite struggling against Virginia, junior guard Terance Mann is shooting 58 percent and leading the Seminoles with 14.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Senior guard Braian Angola averages just shy of 14 points to go with 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per contest. Forward Phil Cofer, also a senior, averages 13.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game whole shooting 49 percent from the field.

For Notre Dame: With Bonzie Colson injured, T.J. Gibbs has carried the offensive load for the Irish, averaging 16.2 points per game. Senior guard Matt Farrell scores nearly 16 per game to go with a team-high 5.2 assists. Martinas Geben, a senior from Lithuania, averages better than 10 points and nearly eight rebounds per game while shooting 59 percent from the field.

What to Watch For

3-point shooting: In three contests between the teams last season, Notre Dame seemed unable to miss from beyond the 3-point arc. The Fighting Irish were a combined 35-for-70 or 50 percent in the three games, which included an ungodly 15 of 21 in Tallahassee — the lone match-up they lost. Notre Dame ranks third in the ACC in 3-pointers made per game with 8.6 per contest. The Seminoles aren’t far behind at 8.5. The Fighting Irish are shooting 37.4 percent from deep compared to FSU’s 36.3 percent.

Point guard play: Like Notre Dame did from deep, point guard Matt Farrell was a tough guy to stop for FSU last season. In the three games against the Seminoles, Farrell averaged nearly 16 points, 7.3 assists and shot 45 percent from deep. FSU has a nice duo of point guards in C.J. Walker and Trent Forrest. Walker has been the x-factor for FSU this season. When Walker plays well, the Seminoles seem to win. He’s a guy who likes to push the pace and could put some pressure on Farrell to defend on Saturday.

Terance Mann: The leading scorer for FSU, Terance Mann is coming off of his worst performance of the season. In Wednesday’s loss to Virginia, Mann finished with just three points on 1-for-4 shooting and two rebounds. Mann was held without an assist, steal or block. After a scoreless performance against the Fighting Irish in Tallahassee last season, Mann averaged 11 points and shot 10-for-14 over the final two contests against Notre Dame.

Foul shooting: Saturday’s contest in South Bend will feature one of the best free throw shooting teams in the ACC in Notre Dame against one of the worst in FSU. The Fighting Irish shoot nearly 76 percent from the stripe, which ranks second in the ACC and 34th nationally. The Seminoles shoot just over 69 percent — good for 13th in the ACC — and have missed some key ones late in each of their last two games. In last season’s contest in South Bend, the Fighting Irish were 19-for-21 from the foul line. FSU was a woeful 7 of 22.

Number to Pay Attention To

80: That’s the number Florida State has had to reach points-wise to pick up wins in ACC play. When the Seminoles score at least 80 points in conference, they’re 6-1. When they don’t, they’re 0-5. In FSU’s only win over Notre Dame last season, it finished with 83 points. In the two losses, it finished with 72 and 73 points, respectively.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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