The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic didn’t attract quite the same marquee field as in year’s past, but they did bring four quality ballclubs and programs to the Barclays Center for two days of great hoops. Florida State dismantled BYU in the opener, a somewhat surprising result given how mightily FSU struggled against South Alabama in their opener. In the nightcap, another surprising result (though not stunning) as #20 Notre Dame was clipped by St. Joe’s in the nightcap. The Hawks are the favorite (co-favorite perhaps, along with Temple) to win the Atlantic 10, but were still the underdog in yesterday’s contest.
Tonight the two winners and two “losers” meet in the finals/consolation round. There is no real cache in winning this pseudo-tournament, but there is tremendous value in picking two high quality non-conference wins to pad the resume. Florida State and St. Joe’s will attempt to do just that in the Championship Game tonight at 9:30 pm EST.
Let’s dig into tonight’s matchup and see if we can find a winning edge.
St. Joe’s was led last night by Ronald Roberts 21 points and 16 rebounds. The rebounds are especially impressive given Notre Dame’s size and reputation as a solid “box you out” kind of team. Roberts teamed up with a pair of big men, Chris Wilson (19 points) and Halil Kanacevic (15 & 8) to dominate the Fightin’ Irish interior. I expect the three bigs to give Florida State similar fits tonight. To make things even beter for the Hawks, tonight they will get their leading scorer from each of the last two seasons, Carl Jones back, after serving his three-game suspension.
St. Joes is a legit Top 20 team, and I expect them to be in the #4-#6 seed range when it is all sid and done. Much of where they fall along that seed range is contingent upon how they play in key non-conference games like tonight. Don’t think Phil MArtelli and his veteran-laden squad aren’t well aware of that fact.
Florida State looked terrible in their opener, a loss to South Alabama, but brilliant in their thrashing of a BYU team most expect to see in the NCAA Tournament in March. So which Seminole team will we see tonight?
Michael Snaer looked like an All-ACC player last night, dropping 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against BYU. Florida State is going to need a good offensive output from him tonight against a more varied St. Joe’s offensive attack. The Seminoles got a nice diverse scoring night, adding 17 points from Okaro White and 15 a piece from Ian Miller and Devon Bookert. It was an important early season step for a very young Florida State team.
I like Florida State’s overall makeup. They are athletic and big. They have a real chance to compete with Maryland for 4th place in the ACC. But tonight. I like the experience and depth of St. Joe’s. I think in a close ballgame, and I expect it to be close, they will show a little more poise and make a few more plays down the stretch. Florida State shot 58% from 3-point range last night. I don’t see them replicating that feat today. That will tighten up the game, and force it to come down to more precision and execution of the offense.
Give me St. Joe’s laying the two points.
Free Pick: St. Joe’s -2