There are 16 “Round of 32″ games on Saturday and Sunday as the most exciting weekend of the sports calendar continues. As we always do every March here at MSF, we try to cover you with previews, informed and reasoned predictions, and pertinent viewing info as soon as we can get it posted.
In this post, we preview the East Region’s second round matchup between the 3rd-seeded Florida State and the 6th-seeded Bearcats of Cincinnati.
Florida State-Cincinnati Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #3 Florida State v #6 Cincinnati in East Region
- Florida State-Cincinnati Date: Sunday, 3/18
- Florida State-Cincinnati Tip Time: 9:40
- Florida State-Cincinnati Location: Nashville
- Florida State-Cincinnati TV: TBS
- Florida State-Cincinnati Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
- Florida State-Cincinnati Point Spread: TBA
- Tickets: Florida State-Cincinnati Tickets
- Tickets: East Regional Tickets in Boston
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Florida State-Cincinnati Analysis and Prediction
Both the Bearcats and Seminoles came away with close wins on Friday, with Cincinnati holding off a huge second half run from Texas and FSU coming from behind to beat Saint Bonaventure. The Bearcats jumped out to a huge early lead, and four players scored in double figures, led by Yancy Gates who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Noles got 19 points and nine boards from big man Bernard James to go with a couple huge plays from Okaro White down the stretch.
Both teams have relied on strong defense this season, and both played well down the stretch and throughout their respective conference tournaments.
The Seminoles finished 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency, led by the ninth-ranked effective field goal percentage defense. They rank in the Top 25 against both two- and three-pointers, which is not at all good news for a UC squad that has some pretty ugly shooting percentages this year.
Keep an eye on how things shake out under the glass though, as the Bearcats rank 40th in offensive rebounding percentage and the Noles check in at 207th on the defensive glass. Cincinnati grabbed 11 offensive boards against Texas, while FSU surrendered 13 offensive rebounds against Saint Bonaventure. Second chance points could be the equalizer for a poor shooting Cincinnati club.
When Florida State has the ball, offensive rebounding will be critical as well. The Noles grab nearly 36 percent of their misses, while the Bearcats have routinely allowed opponents to rack up second chance points. They did a decent job against Texas on Friday, but they will need a repeat performance against a rugged FSU front line.
Limiting turnovers will be the other key for Florida State. They rank 324th in turnover rate for the season, and while the Seminoles have improved in that area over the course of the season, Cincinnati has done a decent job forcing turnovers this year, particularly with pressure from guards Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright. Don’t count on many free throws for Florida State though, as they rarely get to the line and UC ranks eighth in opponents’ free throw rate.
Florida State guard Michael Snaer will need to rebound from being shut out against the Bonnies for the Seminoles to advance. He leads the team in scoring but struggled with early foul trouble and couldn’t ever get into much of a rhythm in the second half.
The other matchup to watch will be Cincinnati big man Yancy Gates against Bernard James and the rest of FSU’s front line. The Bearcats don’t have a ton of size, so they desperately need Gates to hold his own inside without getting into foul trouble.
Florida State definitely got a scare from Saint Bonaventure in the first round, but I think they match up well against Cincinnati. Look for a bounce back game from Snaer, as well as another strong performance from James on the interior.
Predicted Winner: Florida State
Florida State Seminoles Team Capsule
- Conference: ACC
- Record: 24-9 (12-4 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 8-2
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 7-5
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Duke (2), North Carolina (2), North Carolina State, Virginia (2)
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Harvard, Michigan State
- Player to Watch: Michael Snaer (6’5” G, Jr.) – 14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 spg, 42.2 3P%
Florida State Bottoms Line:
The Noles somehow managed to beat Duke and North Carolina twice in the same season in which they lost to a pair of Ivy League schools. Still, Florida State has been a different team since losing to Clemson, winning 15 of their last 18 games. Leonard Hamilton’s squad is strong on the defensive end, which is no surprise. A high block percentage has helped them to the 12th-best two-point defense, and they also do a decent job of forcing turnovers. On the offensive end, they rank 324th in turnover rate, which is obviously a bit of a concern. However, the offense has continued to improve this season, and they are just outside of the Top 50 in offensive rebounding percentage.
Junior guard Michael Snaer has been one of the nation’s most improved players. His three-point shooting has risen dramatically, and he has hit a number of clutch shots for the Noles. Backcourt mate Ian Miller missed the first semester, but he has played well since returning and is averaging 11.0 points. On the interior, Bernard James shoots over 60 percent from the floor and has strong rebounding percentages on both ends of the floor. He is also a terrific shot-blocker and his presence deters opponents from attacking the rim. Four other players score at least 6.6 points per game, including Xavier Gibson, who is a relentless rebounder, and Luke Loucks, who dished out 13 assists in the ACC Championship game. Based on their recent play, the Noles might be a trendy pick to make a Final Four run.
Cincinnati Bearcats Team Capsule
- Conference: Big East
- Record: 24-10 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 7-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, Georgetown (2), Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Syracuse
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Louisville, Marquette, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, Xavier
- Player to Watch: Yancy Gates (6’9” F, Sr.) – 12.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg
Cincinnati Bottoms Line:
Give Mick Cronin and the Bearcats a ton of credit, because after a slow start and then the brawl against Xavier, it would have been easy for Cincinnati to go in the tank. However, they fought back to finish 12-6 in the Big East and made a run to the championship of the conference tournament.
Cronin essentially uses a six-man rotation, with five of those players scoring at least 9.2 points per game. Sean Kilpatrick leads the team with 14.3 points per contest, and backcourt mates Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright both score at least 10 points with Wright leading the team in assists and steals. On the interior, Yancy Gates is playing the best basketball of his career and finished the regular season averaging 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds. Throw in glue guys like Jaquon Parker and Justin Jackson, and you have a solid nucleus to count on.
From an efficiency standpoint, the Bearcats have an extremely low turnover rate, and rank inside the Top 40 in offensive rebounding percentage. However, their shooting percentages are pretty ugly, and they rarely get to the free throw line. On the defensive end, they have been victimized on the offensive glass, but they rarely give opponents free points by sending them to the free throw line. After such a strong performance in the Big East Tournament, the Bearcats should have plenty of confidence heading into the Big Dance.
Related: Jump to our East Region Bracket Breakdown
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