Is there a natural law forbidding a school from excelling at basketball and football [forget academics] simultaneously? Florida State’s shift from football powerhouse to AP Top 25 basketball program hints there is.
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Once upon a time, the Seminoles bossed the college football landscape. Before Nick Saban went to Alabama, Bobby Bowden had his team in the national title picture year in, year out. When quarterback Charlie Ward ended up as the New York Knicks’ point guard, the general reaction was, “Wait, the ‘Noles play roundball, too?”
Now, Florida State’s gridiron program is in disarray. They’re 5-7 overall, 3-5 in the ACC. No bowl for you.
On the other hand, the hoops squad is rocking the rock. Leonard Hamilton’s group is 7-1 on the early season, ranked 11th. They travel to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ to take on the University of Connecticut Huskies tonight in an early evening tussle.
Coach Dan Hurley’s Huskies are on a roll themselves, boasting a 7-2 record ahead of conference play. It helps that UConn’s games all came at Gampel Pavilion or a neutral venue but they’re not complaining.
The Seminoles only road trip to the opponent’s building ended in an 80-69 win over Tulane. They’re 2-1 in neutral venues. The Huskies are 1-1.
Sophomore Alterique Gilbert [4.7 apg] runs the offence for the Huskies. He’s coming off a career-high in assists  in the 90-63 win over Lafayette but senior Jalen Adams is the star, averaging 19.3 ppg. UConn is weak on the boards. Third guard Christian Vital leads the team with 5.9 rpg. You might say it’s vital for Dan Hurley to recruit a presence in the paint.
Expect FSU to attack them there. Seven-foot-four senior centre Christ Koumadje should have a big game. Hamilton expects twin point guards Terence Mann [sr, 2.1 apg] and Trent Forrest [soph, 3.6 apg] to spread the ball around. Four players average double figures in points, with Mann the highest at 11.1 ppg. Senior guard PJ Savoy averages 9.5. While both sides emphasise guard play, the ‘Noles look to penetrate more.
It should come as no surprise that the UNDER is 9-2-1 in FSU’s last dozen outings. On the other hand, they save their best for Saturdays. The OVER is in their last eight to start the weekend. UConn loves the OVER. It’s 7-1 in the Huskies last eight non-conference tilts, 15-5-1 in recent neutral site matchups and 16-5 in their last 21 overall.
The TOTAL for this one is 152.5, the LINE UConn +9.5. The two schools have only met twice, the last time in 2011, so throw their head-to-head results out the window. This season, Florida State games have been consistently UNDER 152.5, often narrowly. UConn’s been well OVER on most occasions. Trust their magnetism to have the greater pull.
Martin Palazzotto is a freelance writer and author of strange bOUnce, a collection of sport fiction.