Muskies Manhandle Maryland-Florida State Next - NCAA Round 2 -- 6:10PM Saturday-TNT!!!!
Andy Mac Williams,
#11 Seed Xavier's 76-65 First Round NCAA Tournament victory over#6 Seed Maryland(Big Ten) was NO UPSET!!! XU controlled the game physically from the start. Xavier found themselves down 36-35 at the half because of self-inflicted wounds-turnovers and Trevon Bluiett's slow start offensively(1-8FG,3 points). The Muskies won the second half in a landslide(41-29) including a 21-4 run flipping the score from down 46-40 to ahead 61-50 over a blitzing sizzling 5 minute span.
Coach Mack and company have settled on a late season March Madness game winning formula that has led to 4 wins in 5 starts under one and done pressure. X is thriving-employing a solid 8 man rotation including a healthy Bluiett(20.6PPG over the 5 games)-emerging BIG Sean O'Mara(10.5PPG-4 Rebs-in just 19 minutes/game over the last 4 including a career high 18 points against Maryland)-rock solid PG play from Frosh Quentin Gooden(9 points-9assists-4 rebs in 39 minutes vs the Terps)-great role playing,hustle and defense from Malcolm Bernard and J.P.Macura and inside grit from Rashid Gaston and Tyrique Jones.
Kaiser Gates was a positive wild card against Maryland after struggling in NYC vs Butler and Creighton. Gates chipped in 11 points in the win over UM. Xavier is giving up a stingy 65PPG during this March roll by controlling tempo and deftly mixing packline defense with morphing zone looks(2-3 and 1-3-1). Strong rebounding has been a constant(34-24 advantage over Maryland).
XU contained Maryland All Big Ten guard Melo Trimble(13 points-inefficiently on 5-15 shooting with 3 turnovers). The Terps became a mediocre jump shooting team limited to one shot most trips while Xavier ran patient offense-distaining quick trigger threes-thriving on multiple passes and post touches.
The Muskies solved the Maryland press late and made vital free throws to win on cruise control. Bluiett followed his recent pattern exploding after half time for 18 points(21 total).
SCOUTING#3 Seed FLORIDA STATE:
The ACC runner-up Seminoles-tied with Louisville and Notre Dame at 12-6 in the league-behind 14-4 North Carolina-have been Top 25 all season(26-8 overall). FSU sprinted to a 12-1 non-conference record(best win over Florida-only loss to Temple). The Noles were unblemished at home in Tallahassee(19-0).They lost in the ACC Tourney Semis to Notre Dame and were an up and down 5-4 over the last 9 games including Thursday night's NCAA First Round 86-80 track meet win over#14 Seed Florida Gulf Coast(Atlantic Sun Champion). FGCU gave FSU a strong game despite losing their starting 6-9 power forward to an ankle injury.
The Seminoles are short on NCAA experience(first NCAA trip since 2012). Long time coach Leonard Hamilton has assembled a deep huge athletic team.11 players are averaging over 10 minutes per game. FSU wants to run. They lead the NCAA in dunks(9 jams against Florida Gulf Coast) and score 83PPG while giving up 72PPG.
6-7 Soph Dwayne Bacon(17PPG) is their top player(25 plus 9 rebounds vs FGCU).The jumbo PG is 6-4 Junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes(10PPG-5 assists).6-10 Frosh Issac Jonathon(12 points-8 rebounds) starts at one forward(17 and 10 against FGCU). 6-6 Soph Terrance Mann(9 points-5 rebounds) is the other forward. At center is 7-1 300 pound Michael Ojo.
Main subs in the Florida Gulf Coast game were 7 footer Christ Koumadie(40 blocks) and 6-6 Braian Angola-Rodias. Hamilton cut down on his usual bench minutes vs FGCU?? The subs collectively get about 40% of the minutes. FSU plays pressure man defense with little zone. They seem impatient offensively looking to jam the ball inside and crush opponents on the glass.
The Seminoles are not a prolific three point shooting team(35%-only 31% of their shots from outside the arc). They are deadly and persistent in the paint. FSU lives by the two point FG.
HOW DOES XAVIER UPSET #3 SEED??
The Muskies control tempo with patient offense and inside-out action refusing to let FSU get into their favored style basically a track meet. Defensively,Xavier mixes packline with zone hoping FSU gets impatient and settles for jumpers. The Muskie March winning formula calls for a game in the 60s or low 70s. Florida State wants 80s-90s-triple digits if possible.
FSU is bigger faster and more seasoned than Maryland. All the experts see a Muskie loss. FSU didn't exactly knock my socks off in their win over Florida Gulf Coast. Leonard Hamilton teams have usually underachieved in March. Xavier can help perpetuate that trend by cutting turnovers to single digits-getting Trevon Bluiett off to a quicker scoring start(maybe some early FTs to help him find his stroke) and staying disciplined. No early shot clock threes-no blown box outs(the Noles are going to try to jump over around and through you anyway)-no long scoring droughts.
Keep FSU under 70 points and Xavier wins. 70-80 points and it's a toss-up. Over 80 good bye Muskies!!This will be close!! Xavier 71 Florida State 69!! Hello Sweet 16!! Do you know the way to San Jose?? Next Thursday against Sean Miller and Arizona.
Chris Mack teams are now 8-6 in 7 NCAA trips. The Muskies Team 95 is now 6-1 on neutral courts including 4-0 in Orlando.