Preview: Florida State

In what has been a cruel season for player departures, the Tar Heels were dealt another blow yesterday when Reggie Bullock was declared done for the season . It’s all too familiar for this year’s team, who last lost a player (Larry Drew II) right before the first time it played Florida State and then Duke and few days later. Bullock’s minutes will be missed, but since his breakout at Boston College, his production has slumped so luckily the loss wasn’t from a major contributor. That being said, we’ve seen that Reggie has the talent to have big games, and Carolina will be losing that possibility heading into the greatest month of the year.

The injury will more or less cancel out, however, because Florida State will be without its star forward Chris Singleton, who was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder before breaking his ankle two weeks ago. He’ll be back for the ACC Tourney, but not tonight.

As with any pending Duke game, the games directly before and after it are perfect trap games. This week it’s even more so as Saturday’s match-up in Chapel Hill will likely determine the ACC regular season champ and will DEFINITELY decide who gets the top seed in the conference tournament. Will be a good one no matter how you slice it.

  • While Singleton was FSU’s best player, Derwin Kitchen (right) is its leader, and he’s still playing. He won’t put up a lot of points, but he — and pretty much everyone on Florida State — can defend his ass off and is protecting his home court on senior night. Methinks he’s going to be a handful. Carolina will need to pressure him into making some bad decisions.
  • FSU hasn’t lost an ACC game at home this year. The team always has a penchant for big wins at home. In recent years those wins have come at Duke’s expense, but this game will be heavy on their minds with a ranked UNC coming to town.
  • Without Singleton, UNC needs to keep pushing its recent success down low. The trio of Henson, Barnes and Zeller has been a lethal force on the boards, and Big Z and Barnes have put together some great offensive performances of late. Also, did you know Henson can block a few shots?
  • Z was a pleasure to watch against Maryland. Usually stoic, Zeller fist-pumped and And-1-ed his way to 25 points and 6 boards. Are we seeing the emergence of a beast?

This game should be another tough grind. In their first meeting, UNC scored what is still the most points allowed by the Seminoles all season with 89. Expect the Heels to not get too close to that mark again. Even though its a trap game, post-game quotes from the Heels have been steady in their “take it one game at a time” attitude:

“You know, that’s been good but you know it’s going to come a point where it’s going to be a one-game elimination so we’ve just got to come ready to play every night and be as consistent as possible.” — Harrison Barnes after Maryland

“I like the way we’re finding a way to win. You know, we never know how we’re going to do it. We may have to hit a bunch of threes against Boston College. We may have to get the stops against Virginia Tech. But at the end of the day we’re just finding ways to win and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.” — Kendall Marshall after Maryland

Expect the winning to continue.

Bottom Line: UNC 70, FSU 63