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Preview: FSU Travels to Virginia for Marquee Top-10 Match-up

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Florida State basketball travels to Charlottesville, Virginia for a top-10 meeting with the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday. This is the first ACC game for either team, who have raced out to quality records to begin the year.

In terms of viewership, this will probably be Florida State’s most watched game yet, and it might even stay that way throughout the season. We give a preview of another impressive Virginia team who has its sights set on a deep tournament run in March. A road victory for Florida State would likely mean a top-5 ranking and perception as a national contender.

The Match-Up

Who: No. 9 Florida State Seminoles (12-1) at No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers (12-0)
When: Jan. 5, 2019 at 3 p.m. EST (ESPN2)
Where: John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia

Key Players

For Virginia
Kyle Guy, G (Jr.): 15.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 APG
De’Andre Hunter, G (So.): 14.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.3 APG
Ty Jerome, G (Jr.): 14.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.1 SPG

For FSU
Terance Mann, G (Sr.): 13.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 55% FG
Mfiondu Kabengele, F (So.): 11.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 50% FG
Trent Forrest, G (Jr.): 10.7 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.4 SPG

What to Watch For

Virginia defense: The Cavaliers are once again a premier defensive team of the sport. Head coach Tony Bennett is known for his disciplined and frustrating “Pack Line” defense that emphasizes help defense and clogging the lanes. For teams like Florida State that love to attack the basket, it can be a death knell, and it typically leads to increased turnovers and very inefficient shooting nights. The Seminoles will need to be quick on their passes outside the paint, because one of the keys to beating Virginia is outside shooting. While the Virginia defense essentially closes off the middle, it leaves some room on the outside where particularly skilled shooters can do damage. FSU was held to 40 percent shooting and just 32 percent in the second half of last season’s 59-55 loss to Virginia in Tallahassee.

Tempo Contrast: This has been the more interesting part of the Florida State-Virginia match-up over the past few seasons. The Seminoles and Cavaliers tend to play each other closely, despite being near polar opposites in tempo. Virginia is extremely slow and has some of the fewest possessions per game. Florida State is fast-paced and loves to score quickly. Where Florida State has succeeded lately is shutting down the Virginia offense and being efficient enough on jump shots to pull out the victory. The defense will need a rebound effort after the Winthrop game, but a slower Virginia team might be what the Seminoles need to get back into their groove.

Number to Pay Attention To

51: Virginia averages a nation-leading 51 points surrendered to opponents. Florida State has yet to score less than 60 this season. The Seminoles have also scored more than 51 in their last two meetings against the Cavaliers, one of which was a victory. The other was a close loss.

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