Tennessee (5-0) will be going up against Florida State (5-1) on the hardwood the day after Thanksgiving as part of the Emerald Coast Classic. Allegedly (per the event’s website), Tennessee’s games against Alabama State and UTC were part of this early season Classic as well. Anyway, we are now in the third round of the tournament and will square off against a Seminoles team that is looking to improve on last year’s Sweet Sixteen appearance and solidify themselves as a program that belongs in the top echelon of the ACC. Let’s take a look at the boys from Tallahassee and how they stack up against the Big Orange.
Is Free Shoes University Still Funny?
School: Florida State University
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Coach: Leonard Hamilton (18th Season)
2018-2019 Record: (29-8, 13-5)
Notable Alumnus (kinda?): Much like Alabama State’s Notable Alumnus, this guy never really graduated from the school we are talking about. However, he does have one of the greatest mustaches of all time. Burt Reynolds attended FSU in the late 1950s, and was actually a starting halfback and defensive back. Even cooler, he was roommates with Lee Corso! Unfortunately, Reynolds’ career was hampered by injuries on and off the field, and he left the team after an embarrassing mistake against UNC cost his team a game.
While his football career may have been cut short, he ultimately did okay for himself. Reynolds starred in a number of movies and television shows, including Gunsmoke, Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, and others. His mustache was a thing of beauty and one that all men envied. Sadly, the mustachioed legend passed away in 2018, but his epic Lip-Toupee will live forever.
The Seminoles’ Snapshot
Florida State guards Trent Forrest and Devin Vassell have been the most consistent contributors for the team all season. Forrest, a senior guard averaging 12.2 points and 4.7 assists per game, is the heart and soul of this team. He is a veteran player that has played in the NCAA tournament every season since he arrived in Tallahassee and been named an NCAA tournament All-Regional player. He is joined in the backcourt by Vassell, a sharp shooting sophomore from Suwanee, Georgia who averages 12.3 points a game while shooting nearly 47% from deep.
While the guards are the leaders of this team, FSU has a freshman forward who looks to me like the most talented player on the Seminoles’ roster. So far, averaging only 21 minutes per games, Patrick Williams is averaging 10.5 points on 53% shooting. While that may not jump off the page, in the last four games, he has averaged 17 points. Look for Williams to catch your eye, and maybe even snag a couple post-season honors as a freshman All-ACC or accolades of the like.
How the Vols Match Up
This game is going to be pretty even across the board. Florida State’s Vassell and Forrest will be matched up with the Vols’ Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden, and Patrick Williams, whether he starts or not, will likely be guarded by defensive stalwart Yves Pons. Both Pons and Williams are great athletes, and that match-up will be worth keeping an eye on, alone. I would like to see Josiah-Jordan James be a difference maker in this game, as no one on the Seminoles roster looks to me like they could have an answer for him should his game begin clicking.
Another interesting matchup? Leonard Hamilton and Rick Barnes. Both are long time coaches who have proven they can build and maintain a program. They also do it in a way that isn’t flashy and they take a real blue-collar approach to their coaching. The “chess-match” between the two respected coaches will be a good one to watch.
We have a common opponent with the Seminoles this year, as we have both gone up against Chattanooga. FSU beat the Mocs a little more soundly than the Vols did, and that does give me pause. However, I do not necessarily put too much stock into that common thread. The Vols looked sloppy against UTC, and FSU fired on all cylinders. All in all, this will be a good game to watch to end the Holiday week!
This is the first time this season I have SERIOUSLY considered going against my pre-season pick (I am 4-1, by the way). This is pretty much going to be a home game for Florida State (Niceville is only 2 hours from Tallahassee). The game is evenly matched, in my opinion. However, I am sticking with the preseason pick. Tennessee takes down the Seminoles (feels like ’98!!!) 60-54.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. The Vols are currently number 17, and this win could be extremely important in building their NCAA tourney resume! Be sure to tune into CBS Sports Network at 7:00 p.m. on Friday to follow up on this preview. Also, for minute to minute coverage of all sports on The Hill, be sure to check out MoreImportantIssues’ articles and podcasts on a variety of platforms, including Twitter (@More_Issues) and iTunes!
Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! Go Vols!
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.