Preview: Florida State (16-7, 6-5) vs. Syracuse (16-8, 6-5)

Previewing Florida State vs. Syracuse:

Game 25: Florida State (16-7, 6-5) vs. Syracuse (16-8, 6-5)

All-time series: Syracuse leads 5-1

Date: Thursday, Feb. 11th

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Location: Carrier Dome (Syracuse, NY)

TV: ESPN

The Seminoles and Orange enter Thursday's ACC matchup three games out of first place in league play. It's safe to say this is a huge game for both teams and their NCAA Tournament aspirations.

Florida State is led by freshman guard Malik Beasley, who averages over 17 points per game. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said Beasley will be a first-round pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA Draft, which is extremely high praise. Fellow freshman G/F Dwayne Bacon is second on the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. Boeheim also believes Bacon will be a first-round draft pick, according to his ACC teleconference call earlier this week.

FSU has a few impressive ACC wins this season, including Virginia and Clemson at home. They've also dropped games to Louisville, North Carolina, Clemson, and then-12th-ranked Miami

As a team, the Seminoles shoot 34% from 3-point range and 71% from the charity stripe. 

Three things to watch:

1. Malachi fast start: There's no question that freshman Malachi Richardson has had a few big-time second half performances during ACC play. Without Richardson, Syracuse's season would be lost. But the one thing lacking from his game, of late, is a fast start. We've yet to see Richardson get off to a fast start in the first half, which is something to watch on Thursday. 

2. Rebounding: FSU is sixth in the ACC in rebounding, which could cause problems for the Orange. If Syracuse wants to continue their hot play of late, rebounding could play a big factor on Thursday night. Junior Tyler Roberson will need to be "plugged in" and have another one of his dominate performances on the glass. 

3. Containing Beasley and Bacon: It's no secret that Beasley and Bacon are the key to FSU's success. If the Orange can contain those two talented freshmen, they'll have a great opportunity to win their seventh ACC game of the season. SU's defense has carried the team to three straight home victories, and it will need to be very good on Thursday to make it four straight. 


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