West Region: Vermont vs Florida State Preview
Vermont vs Florida State Preview
Typically the No.4 vs No.13 matchup is close, but the favorites pull it out nearly 85 percent of the time. If I were a betting man (which I am) I would venture to say this pairing of No.13 Vermont (27-6) and No.4 Florida State (27-7) will be a lot closer than the rest. From 2013-16 we saw at least one 13-seed defeat a 4-seed, but the four-seed is undefeated in the first round since Stephen F. Austin took down West Virginia in 2016.
The Catamounts ride into the Big Dance with a 27-6 overall record, tied for the second-most wins in school history, and the highest number of victories by a New England team this season. Vermont won their seventh America East Championship on Saturday after knocking off defending champion UMBC ,66-49.
The Seminoles are in the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season, and the seventh time in 11 years. It’s familiar territory.
“We are pleased and we’re happy, but we’re not quite as emotional,” said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton.
“We understand that it’s going to be hard, and we understand what it takes to go in and compete in the NCAA tournament.”
FSU may be one of the most experienced teams in the entire field of 68. Looking at their lineup, they have players one through five that can and will impact the ball-game.
Mfiondu Kabengele– 12.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game
Terance Mann– 11.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game
Trent Forrest– 9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.9 steals per game
M.J. Walker– 7.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game
Phil Cofer– 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds per game
Christ Koumadje– 6.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game
Looking at those six names, four are upper classmen while the other two have Tournament experience. This team will not be afraid of the moment and if one has an off game there are five others ready and willing to step up to carry the load.
Whether it’s their backcourt in Mann, Forrest of Walker–all three are capable of taking over offensively.
Cofer and Koumadje will be forces in the paint and can impact the game on the defensive end of the floor–specifically Koumadje, who at 7’4 will be a new sight for the Catamounts who are not used to facing that type of size. Teams try to go small against the Seminoles to prevent the seven-footer from getting minutes–that could be a gameplan for Vermont, but how they react to him on the floor will be telling.
For Vermont, it’s a one-man show. Anthony Lamb.
Lamb is the America East Player of the Year–he averages 21.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. He is the only Catamount who averages more than 30 minutes a game–the only way he will come off the court against FSU is if he is in foul trouble–and that would be crushing for Vermont.
Secondarily, the Catamounts have the Duncan brothers that will all see minutes. Ernie Duncan joined Lamb on the All-America East First Team averaging 13.8 points per game, but there is also Everett and Robin Duncan who play smaller roles on the club.
LINE: -10.5 FSU
Dan’s Bet: +10.5 Vermont
Bracket Pick: FSU
Score Prediction: Florida State 76 Vermont 70