Quentin Goodin FR (6-4, 197) vs Xavier Rathan-Mayes JR (6-4, 208)
Rathan-Mayes is a lead guard with good size and solid athleticism. He's a capable shooter from the perimeter, but he's much better when his feet are set and he often takes tough shots on the move. He's good at playing downhill off of ballscreens and finding points at the rim or in the mid-range. He has enough wiggle with his handle to break defenders down one-on-one and create his own shot. With his scoring ability, he'll often slide over to shooting guard when the backup point guards come into the game. He's averaging 10.4 points (45.2%FG, 32.8% 3PT), 4.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game. Goodin played 39 minutes against Maryland and turned in a really solid performance with nine points (3-7 FG, 0-1 3PT), nine assists, five rebounds, and five turnovers. Taking care of the basketball is going to be crucial for him in this matchup because Florida State lives for live ball turnovers that they can convert to transition opportunities. He's averaging 5.1 points, 3.4 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.9 turnovers in 23.3 minutes per game.
Slight Edge FSU
JP Macura JR (6-5, 203) vs Terance Mann SO (6-6, 204)
Mann is tremendous in transition and that's where he does a lot of his damage. In the halfcourt, he gets most of his points on spot-up jumpers or offensive rebounds. He also does a good job of moving without the ball and finding open spots in the defense where his teammates can find him for easy points. That could particularly be a problem when Xavier is playing zone. He's averaging 8.6 points (58.2% FG, 33.3% 3PT) and 4.7 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game. Macura had 10 points (4-10 FG, 0-4 3PT) and five rebounds in 34 minutes against Maryland. He couldn't find the range on his shot, but at least he didn't get frustrated and make poor decisions as a result. He only had one turnover. XU needs that same type of decision-making tonight, but they'll also need him to throw in a few jumpers. He's averaging 14.4 points (42.2% FG, 33.7% 3PT), 4.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 33.3 minutes per game.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Malcolm Bernard SR (6-6, 197) vs Dwayne Bacon SO (6-7, 221)
Bacon is a physical specimen on the wing with some skill. He's a monster in transition that can finish plays in a variety of ways. His most frequent play type is the spot-up jumper, but he'll also attack off the bounce in isolation or ballscreen situations. Once he gets into the mid-range, he loves to use his size to lean into and score over defenders. He's averaging 17.1 points (45% FG, 34.3% 3PT) and 4.2 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game. He led the Seminoles with 25 points (11-17 FG, 0-3 3PT) to go with nine rebounds in 34 minutes of action in Thursday's win over Florida Gulf Coast. Bernard was aggressive and gave a tremendous effort against Maryland, even if it wasn't one of his best performances. He finished with six points (2-4 FG, 1-3 3PT), six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers. He has to continue to be a threat on offense as it takes pressure off of guys like Bluiett and JP Macura. He's averaging 6.4 points (40.8% FG, 38.5% 3PT) and 4.0 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per game.
Significant Edge FSU
Trevon Bluiett JR (6-6, 197) vs Jonathan Isaac FR (6-10, 210)
Isaac is a long and versatile forward with a soft shooting touch. He spends a lot of his time spotting up for jumpers, but his size and athleticism make him a great option for teammates to dump the ball off to when driving. He also has enough handle to straight-line drive for three or four dribbles to the rim. He's actually been more efficient against zones than man-to-man. He doesn't seem to like contact. He's averaging 12.1 points (50.6% FG, 35.2% 3PT), 7.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 26 minutes per game. He had a double-double with 17 points (5-8 FG, 1-3 3PT) and 10 boards to go with five assists, three blocks, and two steals in Thursday's win over FGCU. Bluiett had a dreadful first half against Maryland but then came to life and dominated the second half as Xavier fans have become accustomed to over the last few weeks. He finished with 21 points (7-15 FG, 5-10 3PT), four rebounds, four steals, and four turnovers. FSU doesn't seem to be the type of team that does a good job of locking in on one guy and stopping him. Bluiett should be able to get some good looks in this one. He's averaging 18.2 points (43.7% FG, 37.2% 3PT) and 5.7 rebounds in 34.9 minutes per game.
Slight Edge Xavier
Tyrique Jones FR (6-9, 235) vs Michael Ojo SR (7-1, 304)
Ojo is a huge man with ridiculous strength. They don't involve him in the offense a ton. Most of his points come off of post-ups where he's sealed his man deep under the rim, offensive putbacks, or as a finisher on drives or pick-and-rolls. Like Isaac, he actually scores more against zones than he does man-to-man. He's averaging 4.9 points (56.4% FG) and 3.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game. Jones started but only played nine minutes against Maryland, finishing with a rebound and a blocked shot. This game could go either way for him. FSU's length could give him major issues or the Seminoles' athleticism and up-and-down style may cater better to his game than XU's two other bigs. Regardless of who is on the floor at the five for XU, they have to play like mad men on the boards. Limiting second-chance opportunities for FSU is a must, but they can also gain an advantage on the offensive glass with an exceptional effort. Jones is averaging 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game.
Xavier Bench vs Florida State Bench
Freshman CJ Walker (6-1, 195) is a short stout point guard built in the same mold as Cincinnati's Justin Jenifer. He likes to get out and run in transition where he can use his speed and make plays. He's aggressive and fearless, but he's not a very good shooter. He's averaging 5.0 points (40.6% FG, 30.9% 3PT) and 1.4 assists in 12.7 minutes per game. Sophomore center Christ Koumadje (7-4, 233) is one of the rare guys his size that can legitimately run the floor. He's not a huge factor in their offense, but he can be a problem, particularly against the zone. He plays low on the baseline and then steps up whenever his teammates drive to make himself available for a lob. He's averaging 3.5 points (65.4% FG), 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 10.3 minutes per game. He had seven points (3-4 FG), four blocks, three rebounds, and two steals against FGCU. Freshman wing Trent Forrest (6-5, 215) can handle the ball and finishes well. He likes to lead the break in transition. He's averaging 5.0 points (48.4% FG, 12.5% 3PT), 2.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 15.6 minutes per game. Junior Phil Cofer (6-8, 218) is a versatile forward that is capable of doing a little bit of everything. He'll post up, shoot jumpers, move without the ball, and get on the offensive glass. He's averaging 3.0 points (45.8% FG, 37.5% 3PT) and 1.9 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game. Leonard Hamilton will legitimately play 11 or 12 guys at different times. He seems to feel a lot of his pieces are interchangeable. Sean O'Mara and Kaiser Gates gave Xavier a major lift off the bench Thursday night, combining for 29 points and eight rebounds. The Musketeers will need that type of production again if they want any chance to pull the upset.
Moderate Edge Florida State
Florida State is sitting at 24th in the country in KenPom.com's rankings. The Seminoles are ranked 28th in offensive efficiency and 23rd in defensive efficiency. Xavier ranks 40th overall, 34th in offense and 69th in defense (nice). FSU wants to play fast on offense. They have the 17th fastest average time of possession in the country and they score 19.8 points per game in transition. They rank 23rd in the country in 2-point percentage (54.5%) but 161st in 3-point percentage (35.2%). They score 24.5 percent of their points from beyond the arc, which ranks 310th in the country. As a result, they've seen a lot of zone this year (over 32% of the time). They were just 2-for-13 from deep on Thursday. Despite their ridiculous size, they're not good defensive rebounders. They rank 208th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage. However, they do get a lot of second-chance points and rank 40th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. Xavier ranks 26th in offensive and 25th in defensive rebounding percentage. On the defensive end, Florida State plays man-to-man about 94 percent of the time but they'll also throw a 2-3 zone out there for a few possessions to switch things up. They'll press fullcourt nearly 23 percent of the time. Look for the Musketeers to switch their defenses again as well. Regardless of whether they're in the man-to-man or the zone, they'll likely try to keep it extremely tight, negating the Seminoles size and athleticism advantage as much as possible. If they can get FSU to take part in a shooting contest, they've done all they can. At that point, they just have to hope they outshoot the Seminoles.
Predicted score: Florida State 78 Xavier 73