After taking on No.8 Miami in the safe confines of John Paul Jones Arena, the Virginia Cavaliers have to hit the road to face one of their most physical opponents in Florida State. The game has always been one of the more physical games on Virginia's schedule, dating back several seasons.
Last season, London Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon collided, leaving Brogdon with a bruised forehead and Perrantes with a broken nose (he would go on to miss the game at Wake Forest because of the injury). In 2014, just 14 days separated the two matchups between the teams and both were exciting. First, in Tallahassee, Joe Harris suffered a concussion after colliding with Akil Mitchell's knee. In Charlottesville, Justin Anderson's alley-oop as time waned ruffled some feathers and eventually led to some pushing and shoving that carried over to the handshake line. In 2012? FSU's Bernard James kicked Joe Harris (OH THE HUMANITY), leading to an ejection.
Florida State was named by the Streaking the Lawn staff as a 'darkhorse' preseason ACC contender, but the Seminoles have struggled for a signature win in conference to get started. Their sole conference win came against NC State, but the Noles fell to Clemson, North Carolina, and Miami to start conference play at 1-3. Tonight's game is the only one between the Hoos and Noles this season, barring any ACC tournament matchups.
Florida State is led by a trio of guards in Malik Beasley, Dwayne Bacon, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (XRM). Beasley and Bacon, both freshmen, provide scoring options outside of last season's do-it-all Rathan-Mayes. Beasley leads the team with 17.1 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game, while Bacon adds 16.6 points and 5.2 rebounds. Rathan-Mayes plays the most minutes on the team, averaging over 30 per game, scores 12.1 points per game, and dishes out 5.6 assists per game. He is just 23-70 from beyond the arc (32.9%), but can be very dangerous if left open. Beasley leads the team from three point land, making them at a 38.5% clip.
Big men flock to Leonard Hamilton and Florida State. Their roster currently boasts three players over the seven foot mark: Michael Ojo (7-1), Boris Bojanovsky (7-3), and Chris Koumadje (7-4). Ojo is currently out with an injury and Koumadje only registers six minutes a game, but Bojanovsky will see plenty of the court. Jarquez Smith (3.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Phil Cofer (3.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg) each play around 12 minutes per game for the Seminoles down low. Smith has had issues with fouling, averaging 2.3 per game and fouling out once this season.
The other name to keep an eye on for the Seminoles is guard Devon Bookert. He brings experience to the team as a senior, averages 9.1 points per game, and converts three pointers at 35.8%.
As a team, Florida State averages almost 19 fouls per game, something that Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon can take advantage of. FSU has held opponents to just 33% from beyond the arc, but Virginia has a season average of 40% from the bonusphere. Virginia is 10th nationally when it comes to (not) turning over the ball, something that FSU's length and athleticism has potential to disrupt.
Check out the action on ESPNU tonight at 6:30pm.