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Louisville vs. Florida State preview: Cards go for second top 25 road win this week

U of L will face an FSU team riding a four-game winning streak.

No. 16 Louisville Cardinals (17-6, 8-2) At No. 22 Florida State Seminoles (17-5, 5-4)

Game Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: Donald L. Tucker Center: Tallahassee, Fla.

Television: ESPN2

Announcers: Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Allison Williams (reporter)

Officials: Brian Dorsey, A.J. Desai, Jerry Heater

Favorite: Florida State by 3.5

Series: Louisville leads 34-11

Last Meeting: Louisville won 82-74 on March 7, 2018 in the second round of the ACC tournament

Series History:

Probable Starting Lineups:


Relevant Videos:

About Florida State:

Winners of four straight, 22nd-ranked Florida State is finally fully healthy and appears to be playing its best basketball of the season heading into Saturday’s showdown with Louisville. The Seminoles are coming off an 80-62 win at Syracuse Tuesday night that marked the program’s first win inside the Carrier Dome since 1997.

The catalyst to FSU’s current run of success has been senior guard Terrance Mann, an honorable mention All-ACC selection last season. After struggling over the first three weeks of league play, Mann seems to have found his footing. Over the Seminoles last three games, Mann is averaging 14.7 points per game and shooting 68 percent from the field. He matched a season-high with 22 points in the win over Syracuse on Tuesday.

Mann has been productive against Louisville throughout his career. He averaged 14.7 ppg in the three contests against the Cards last season, including a performance in Tallahassee in which he tied his career-high with 25 points. In the Seminoles’ win at the KFC Yum Center, Mann’s block in the closing seconds sealed the victory.

Florida State’s leading scorer on the season is actually a reserve, sophomore big man Mfiondu Kabengele, who’s averaging 13.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest. He’s averaging 18.0 ppg over the Noles’ last five contests, and scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the win over Syracuse. He splits time at the five spot with senior starter Christ Koumadje, a 7’4 defensive stopper who ranks 7th in the ACC in shot blocking.

Three familiar names — Trent Forrest, M.J. Walker and Phil Cofer — round out Florida State’s starting lineup.

Cofer, a senior who has been a steady contributor for the Noles since 2014-15 (he received a hardship waiver from the NCAA for this season), is just now getting back into the flow of the season after missing significant time because of multiple foot injuries. A right foot injury suffered in October resulted in him sitting out the first nine games of the season. A second foot injury left him sidelined for two ACC games at the end of January — an upset loss to Boston College and a win over Clemson. Cofer appeared fully healthy on Tuesday, when he played 33 minutes and scored 11 points in the win over Syracuse.

One of the best defensive teams in the ACC, Florida State hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 68 points since Jan. 20. Despite starting three guards, the rim protecting combination of Kabengele and Koumadje has made finishing in the paint a nightmare for opposing teams. The Seminoles are also out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 10 boards per game.

Where FSU’s major improvement has come in recent weeks, however, has been on the offensive end, particularly beyond the arc. The Noles made just 30 of their 121 three-point attempts (24.8 percent) in their first five ACC games, resulting in a 1-4 start to conference play. During their four-game winning streak, the team has made seven more threes on 41 fewer attempts and is shooting 46.7 percent from three as a team.

STRENGTHS: Experience, depth, interior size, three-point shooting (recently), free-throw shooting, getting to the free-throw line, halfcourt defense, rebounding, shot blocking, forcing turnovers.

WEAKNESSES: Turnovers, fouling, allowing opponents to get to the free-throw line, midrange shooting, having a dynamic scorer.


—Louisville is 4-1 in ACC road games this season, winning those four games by an average of more than 21 ppg.

—With its victories at No. 11 Virginia Tech and at then-No. 12 North Carolina, Louisville is the only school in the nation with two AP Top 12 road wins this year.

—A Florida State victory on Saturday would give the Seminoles five consecutive ACC wins for just the second time under head coach Leonard Hamilton, and the first time since 2011-12.

—Chris Mack coached against Florida State in each of the last two NCAA tournaments. A year ago, his top-seeded Xavier squad was stunned in the second round by ninth-seeded FSU, 75-70. In the 2017 Big Dance, the Musketeers 11th-seeded Musketeers hammered the third-seeded Noles in the second round, 91-66.

—Florida State is 41-3 inside the Donald L. Tucker Center since the end of the 2015-16 season. One of those three losses came to Louisville last season.

—Louisville’s Jordan Nwora is the second-most improved scorer in the nation with his 17.8 ppg scoring average (fifth in the ACC) up 12.1 ppg from his 5.7 average last year.

—Louisville’s 8-2 start in ACC play this season is tied for its best 10-game start since joining the conference in 2014-15.

—Florida State averages 14.5 turnovers per game, the second worst mark in the ACC.

—Louisville is 4-2 against Florida State since joining the ACC.

—Louisville is 13-8 all-time against Florida State in games played in Tallahassee.

—Florida State’s David Nichols, a graduate transfer from Albany, scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the Great Danes’ near upset of Louisville last season.

—Louisville is 4-3 in games against top 25 opponents (at the time of the game) so far this season, and 2-0 in true road games against top 25 opponents.

—Florida State has won 10 of its last 12 home games against ranked opponents.

—Louisville is 16-0 this season when shooting a better percentage from the field than its opponent.

—Louisville has won 148 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 16 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Florida State 72, Louisville 71