(13) Vermont v. (4) Florida St.
Time: 1 PM CT (TBS)
Spreads: FSU -10
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Florida State Seminoles are heavy 10-point favorites over 13 seeded Vermont in the opening round matchup at 1 PM (CT) on CBS. 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 is led by 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.
Vermont concluded its season with a 27-6 record and a 14-2 record in the American East as it won the Conference. It defeated UMBC in the American East Championship by a final score of 66-49. Vermont got 28 points from Anthony Lamb. Lamb averaged 21.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game this season while shooting 52.1 percent from the field. The 6’6” junior has increased his scoring average every season at Vermont after averaging 12.8 as a freshman and 14.3 a year ago as a sophomore. He had 34 points and six rebounds in the 73-57 victory over Maine on Mar. 9, and he shot 50 percent or better from the field in four of the last five games.
Ernie Duncan and Stef Smith rank No. 2 and No. 3 in scoring at 13.8 and 12.3 points, respectively. Duncan is paired with Everrett Duncan who is the No. 4 scorer at 6.3 points per game. The Catamounts shot 35.3 percent from three-point range and attempted 729 threes this season. Lamb is a tremendous defensive talent in addition to his offense. He averages nearly two blocks and one steal per game, and he is solid in most facets of the game including his 76.8 percent free throw shooting. Vermont shoots 75.2 percent from the line as a team, and the backcourt Duncan and Smith is particularly good at 83 and 81 percent, respectively.
Vermont was strong defensively this season in limiting opponents to just 62.6 points per game, No. 13 most stingy defense in the nation. The Catamounts average 73.9 points per game itself and 11.8 assisted baskets per game, while Lamb averages No. 2 best 2.2 per game and the team is led by Robin Duncan’s 2.5 assists in 24 minutes per night.
With three Duncan on the team, it might seem confusing, but the confusion should not last too long with Vermont facing a very tough 4-seed that has been playing outstanding basketball down the stretch, in FSU. Florida State should emerge as the double-digit favorites that Vegas oddsmakers are projecting.