FSU basketball team will be tested by a Duke offensive attack that can be dynamic


With an opportunity squandered over the weekend in South Bend, Ind., the Florida State men’s basketball team (15-5, 11-4 ACC) eyes another chance at ACC hardware as it takes on the Duke Blue Devils (13-11, 9-9) today in the Seminoles’ first game of the 2021 ACC Tournament (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

While FSU is expected to be a top-five seed in the NCAA Tournament, Mike Krzyzewski’s club is playing the uncustomary role of bubble hopeful. The Blue Devils have scored back-to-back critical wins over Boston College and Louisville to make the ACC quarterfinals. A win over 15th-ranked FSU would be a critical feather in the Devils’ at-large cap, ahead of what figures to be Krzyzewski’s most nail-biting Selection Sunday in decades.

FSU is the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, while Duke is the No. 10 seed.

Since COVID-19 forced a cancellation of the teams’ regular season meeting, today’s Ham-alytics uses Synergy Sports insights to paint Duke’s full-season picture, followed by finer snapshots of what the Blue Devils have done in recent weeks.

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RaiQuan Gray leads the FSU men’s basketball team into tonight’s ACC quarterfinal game against Duke. (Mike Olivella/FSU Sports Information)
Fast Facts: Duke Blue Devils

OFFENSE

Overall: 77th (1,931 possessions, 0.940 points per possession)

Half-court vs Man-to-Man: 100th (1,392 possessions, 0.901 points per possession)

Half-court vs Zone: 171st (209 possessions, 0.919 points per possession)

Transition Offense: 77th (336 possessions, 1.086 points per possession)

Against Press: 11th (36 possessions, 1.111 points per possession)

Adjusted Tempo*: 150th (69.0 possessions/40 minutes) *per KenPom.com

DEFENSE

Overall: 238th (1,891 possessions, 0.902 points per possession)

Half-court, Man-to-Man: 199th (1,401 possessions, 0.864 points per possession)

Half-court, Zone: 206th (160 possessions, .962 points per possession)

Transition Defense: 240th (187 possessions, 1.033 points per possession)

Press Defense: 275th (152 possessions, 0.987 points per possession)

OBSERVATIONS

Taken as a whole, Duke clearly handles business better on the offensive side of things. Within the breakdown of their 77th overall offense, the Blue Devils rank first in Division-I in post-up efficiency at 1.178 points per possession. The Devils are also lethal in designed cuts to the basket, ranking fourth among major-conference programs — only Notre Dame, Gonzaga and Virginia are better.

Defensively, Duke sticks to man principles just under 90 percent of its possessions. Its weakest point is defending offensive rebounds – the Devils rank 317th nationally in stopping put-back chances – followed by stopping the spot-up jumper. So should Florida State bring its shooting touch and an attitude on the glass to Greensboro, N.C., there will be first- and second-chance opportunities to be had Thursday night.

Life After Jalen Johnson

In one of the stunning developments of the ACC season, freshman forward Jalen Johnson opted out of the remainder of Duke’s season on Feb. 15. The star signee of the Blue Devils’ 2020 recruiting class abruptly left the program to prepare for an NBA future.

How can Synergy help paint a Johnson-free picture of the Blue Devil offense? Let’s study the heat map of 13 games in which the freshman played little or no minutes this season:

Duke Heat Map 2020-21, All Games with under 9 minutes from Jalen Johnson (Synergy Sports)

Now, a look at what Duke has been able to produce offensively in two ACC Tournament games:

Duke Heat Map, 2021 ACC Tournament through games of 3/10/21 (Synergy Sports)

Comparing the two maps to find overriding similarities, two zones on the court stand out immediately: Right corner (bottom left of the map) and left wing (top right). Duke has consistently hit from these two spots all season and continues to produce there in Greensboro.

What has to grab the attention of the Seminole coaching staff is ACC Tournament wing shooting in general. The Devils have hit 13 of 24 (54.2 percent) of their shots from the wings. Will Florida State’s extended defense mitigate this scintillating run? Will Duke’s tired legs outweigh a clear level of comfort with the tournament rims? If the answer to both questions is no, the Seminoles could spend just 40 basketball minutes in the state of North Carolina.

Player Spotlight: Matthew Hurt, Forward

The 6-foot-9 sophomore can sting a defense from anywhere on the court. Per Synergy, Hurt’s offensive rating is in:

* The 99th percentile of overall offense and in the post.

* The 98th percentile against man principles.

* The 97th percentile in transition offense.

* The top 10 percent of all spot-up shooters in Division-I.

What does an offensive heat map look like for this type of efficiency? A nightmare:

Matthew Hurt Heat Map, through games of 3/10/21 (Synergy Sports)

Of course, Hurt and the Blue Devils will be required to play at the other end of the court as well. And the Blue Devils’ defense has often been nightmarish for their own cause (see numbers above).

1-on-1 interview with FSU associate head coach Stan Jones

Stay connected with Warchant.com for continuing ACC Tournament coverage from Greensboro.

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