Though much of the Atlantic 10 is down this season, the Saint Louis Billikens have emerged as a solid mid-major with an 8-3 record that includes a true road win against Seton Hall, along with wins at home over Oregon State and Butler. They are looking to make Florida State their next victim, with the Seminoles entering this game having not covered in their past seven games.
What is interesting about the streak is that Florida State’s lone outright loss in that span came to Villanova, with a lot of the non-covers because of overinflated lines. Florida State has been a solid overall team to begin the season, but it still does not have the services of the injured Phil Cofer, who led the team in scoring a season ago when the Seminoles made the Elite Eight.
FSU now must try to cover as a favorite against a Saint Louis team that is 20th in the country in defensive efficiency and has not lost a game by more than five points this season.
Part of why Florida State has not been blasting teams the way many might expect is its 32.3-percent 3-point shooting, which ranks 240th among Division I teams. Florida State’s strength is on the glass, ranking 17th in the country in rebounding rate, but Saint Louis is decent, too, at 52nd in that category.
Though Florida State has the size and length advantage in this spot, Saint Louis has the most versatile player on the floor in Javon Bess, who averages a team-leading 15 points and 7.3 rebounds.
If Saint Louis can prevent this game, which will be played at a neutral site at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. from becoming a free-throw shooting contest (the Billikens are 347th in the country from the foul line), it should be able to hang close enough to have a chance at the end of the game to win outright and give bettors a cover.
The play: St. Louis +7