It’s Feast Week and Florida State is participating in the AdvoCare Invitational, hosted at the Wide World of Sports Complex outside Orlando, Florida. The Seminoles last took part in this tournament in 2009, when FSU defeated Marquette for the championship and Chris Singleton was named MVP.
This year’s field includes the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats, an AP top 20 LSU Tigers team, an old metro rival in the Memphis Tigers, an Oklahoma State Cowboy team that beat FSU last year, and a Canisius team that FSU beat on Sunday.
But FSU begins the tournament with a matchup against the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers. The game tips off sometime around 9:30pm Eastern and will be aired on ESPN2.
UAB comes into the game 3-0 and ranked 161st on KenPom. Coach Rob Ehsan’s team plays mostly man-to-man defense and is about average when it comes to tempo.
The Blazers are a fairly deep team with nine guys playing more than 30% of the possible minutes on the young season. That said, their backcourt duo of sophomore Zack Bryant and senior Jalen Perry have both played over 80% of the team’s minutes and getting either guy in foul trouble would be tough for UAB. Bryant is the set-up man, sporting a 25.6% assist rate (in other words, he assists on 25% of all field goals made by his teammates while he’s on the court). Perry is the scorer, as his 140.8 offensive rating ranks 55th in the country and he’s 5-12 from 3.
Two areas the Blazers excel as a team are forcing turnovers and grabbing offensive rebounds. They turn their opponents over on 24.7% of possessions, good for 22nd in the country, and grab a whopping 42.7% of the available offensive rebounds—7th best in the nation. That’s a lot of hidden possessions if FSU doesn’t come out focused and aggressive on the defensive glass. 6’8 junior Will Butler is the primary threat to watch on the offensive boards, as he is grabbing 19.2% of the available offensive rebounds—15th best in the country.
Despite being a guard oriented team, (only three players over 6’7), the Blazers are currently the second worst 3-point shooting team in the nation, at 21.1%.
KenPom and Vegas both have FSU favored by 16. Should FSU win, they’ll face the winner of LSU and Charleston, the game that tips off just prior to Florida State.