(4) Florida State vs (1) Gonzaga
Time: 6 PM CT (CBS)
Spread: GONZ -8
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Florida State Seminoles are heavy 8-point underdogs to the #1 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs in Sweet 16 play beginning Thursday evening. Florida State concluded its season 27-7 with a 13-5 mark in ACC play but it made it to the ACC Final where it lost to NCAA tournament #1 seed Duke 63-73. Florida State was led by Mfiondu Kabengele off the bench as he connected on 5 of 11 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range en route to 14 points in 26 minutes. The starting backcourt of Trent Forest and M.J. Walker combined to shoot just 4 of 18 for 15 total points. Florida State held Cam Reddish to 11 and RJ Barrett to 17, but Zion Williamson had 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting and Duke shot 49.1 percent from the field and outscored Florida State 37-27 in the second half after being tied at 36 at the intermission.
Florida State’s number one scorer is Kabengele’s 12.9 points per game, and he ranks No. 2 in rebounds at 5.7 per game while leading the team in blocked shots at 1.5 per game. Mann and Forest combine to average 21.1 point per game and 6.3 assists between them, but Forrest shoots just 23.3 percent from three-point range and FSU’s top three scorers are all 78 percent or worse at the line. Florida State utilized an 11-man rotation during the season with all players seeing at least 11 minutes per game. Florida State shoots 33.6 percent from three-point range and 74.1 percent from the free throw line as a team.
The Seminoles attempted just 760 threes during the season with Kabengele leading the team at 167 threes attempted. He did this despite playing over 300 minutes less than the starting backcourt of Mann and Forrest. Mann attempted 264 field goals and connected on 50.4 percent during the season, leading the Seminoles in field goal percentage and three-point percentage (42.3). Kabengele is a 6’10 250 pound sophomore forward, and he played fairly well against Duke — finishing with 14 points, three blocks, and three rebounds in 26 minutes. He has scored in double-figures in three of the last five games, including a 10 point, six rebound performance in just 16 minutes in a 66-59 win over Virginia on Mar. 15.
FSU knocked off Murray State in the round of 32, impressively containing Ja Morant of the Racers as the Seminoles won 90-62. Gonzaga is hardly the one-man show Murray is, though. The Seminoles will need a full-team effort to take down a well-rounded Gonzaga team as 8-point underdogs according to NCAA oddsmakers.
Gonzaga defeated #9 Baylor 83-71 in the Round of 32 after knocking off Fairleigh Dickinson in the opening round. Brandon Clarke had an absolutely monster game against Baylor with 36 points on 15 of 18 shooting. He had averaged just 14.5 points per game in his previous four, but he could do no wrong against Baylor. The 6’8” forward averaged 17 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game on the season while shooting nearly 70 percent from the field.
His efficiency is off the charts. In addition to that, Clarke blocks 3.1 shots per game as a huge game-changer on the defensive end, as well.
Rui Hachimura is the No.1 scorer, and he is a deadeye three-point shooter who knocked down 46 percent of his triple attempts this season. Hachimura averaged 19.7 points per game and six boards per game, and through the tournaments first two games he has scored 21 and six points. Gonzaga needs him to rebound from that six-point performance against Baylor which saw Hachimura connect on just 33 percent of his looks. He shot 60.3 percent on the season and is a great threat to cook opponents when he has his stroke going, but do not get the wrong idea: He is fairly consistent. Despite up and down scoring performances he has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in four of his last five games.