(5) Duke (23-4) at (15) Florida State (19-7)
Thursday, February 23rd, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Donald L. Tucker Center (12,100) -- Tallahassee, Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Duke 12-2, FSU 14-1. Away Record: Duke 7-1, FSU 4-5. Neutral Record: Duke 4-1, FSU 1-1. Conference Record: Duke 10-2, FSU 10-2. Series Record: Duke leads, 30-7.
GAME NOTES: The first place picture in the Atlantic Coast Conference will get a little clearer tonight as the fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils head to the Donald L. Tucker Center to square off with the 15th-ranked Florida State Seminoles in what will send one team into third place and keep the other tied for the top spot in the league standings.
This will be the second encounter between Duke and the Seminoles this season and the 38th meeting in history. Although the Blue Devils hold a 30-7 lead in the all-time series, Florida State has all the momentum after its dramatic 76-73 victory in their last battle, which took place on Jan. 21st last month at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Michael Snaer made national headlines in the first bout by hitting a game-winning three-pointer as time expired to snap Duke's 64-game home winning streak against unranked opponents. Since the incident, Florida State has gained a little respect and pushed its way into the top 25.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils won their fourth in a row on Sunday as they bested the Boston College Eagles 75-50 in Chestnut Hill. The victory made Duke 23-4 overall and 10-2 in ACC play. The Blue Devils put together a superb rebounding effort against Boston College, as they won the battle of the boards 45-21 to push towards the lopsided victory. Duke has won of the best offenses in the nation, as it is netting 79.5 ppg while allowing opponents to average 68.6 ppg.
Duke has one of the most dynamic backcourts in the nation as Seth Curry and Austin Rivers are virtually impossible to contain. With Rivers's ability to penetrate and finish and Curry's lights out three-point shooting, the Blue Devils kill opponents with stellar guard play. The duo combined to score 34 points in the recent win over Boston College. Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee provide frontcourt balance for Duke. Plumlee is near a double-double average as he is scoring 11.2 points and grabbing 9.7 boards per game.
Leonard Hamilton has to be a serious COY candidate after leading FSU to a 19-7 overall record. The Seminoles kept pace in the ACC race by defeating NC State 76-62 to improve to 10-2 in league action on Saturday. FSU shot 49.1 percent from the floor and converted 18-of-21 from the charity stripe to past the Wolfpack, while holding NC State to a paltry 29.3 percent shooting in the contest. The Seminoles have been great on both ends of the floor all season as they are netting 70.0 ppg while limiting opponents to 60.8 ppg.
The Seminoles are led by Snaer, the man who buried Duke earlier this season. The junior shooting guard leads the team with 13.5 ppg, and has since hit another game-winning shot as he hit a go-ahead three-pointer with seconds remaining to give FSU a 48-47 victory over Virginia Tech on Feb. 16th. Bernard James, Okara White, and Bernard Gibson all play vital roles for FSU as well. James is grabbing 8.2 boards per game. Deividas Dulkys, although quiet as of late, can be dangerous as he showed earlier this season with a 32-point outing on a remarkable 12-of-14 shooting performance against North Carolina.
Florida State has erased any notion that it is not for real at this point. Duke will be out for revenge, but it was not overly impressive before the Boston College game as it trailed inferior opponents before late rallies. The Seminoles are a much better team defensively, but will need to keep it a lower scoring affair than the first meeting to sweep the Blue Devils.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 74, Duke 72
02/23 10:36:15 ET