The No. 13 Vermont Catamounts have been waiting a long time to get a shot at one of the major powers this season. After getting nicked at the buzzer during last year’s America East Conference title game, the Catamounts saw fellow conference member UMBC Retrievers knock off the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers in the first round. The Catamounts were never going to get a 16 seed last season and they enter this year with a much more manageable 13 seed.
However, they are playing another tough ACC foe by the name of the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles. Yes, this game is in the west region. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the game is smack in the middle of Vermont country. The Seminoles are deep and talented, but they can’t just roll the ball out against the well-rounded Catamounts in the first-round.
13 Vermont Catamounts (27-6) vs. 4 Florida State Seminoles (27-7)
When: Thursday March 21, 2 p.m. EDT
Where: Hartford, Connecticut- XL Center
Betting Line: FSU -9 o/u 133.5
Vermont Catamounts Breakdown-
The Catamounts won the America East regular season and tournament titles. Despite a few hiccups, namely a pair of losses to the Retrievers, the Catamounts had a dominant conference season. They are scoring 73.9 points per game. Defensively, they are holding opponents to 62.6 points per game. That’s 11.3 points per game scoring differential.
If they are going to knock off the Seminoles Anthony Lamb must play an elite offensive game. Lamb is a 6’6 forward with a versatile offensive game. He is producing 21.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists this season. Lamb is shooting 52 percent from the field. He also connects on 37 percent from 3-point range. Overall, the Catamounts shoot 35 percent from 3-point range. They take 22 3-pointers per game.
Vermont is (20-10) against the spread. Due to great defense, they are (16-16) vs. the over. If they are able to navigate the length of Florida’s State’s defense, they will be able to score at an efficient level. The Catamounts average 11.8 assists per game. Therefore, we must see how well their passing game comes into focus.
Florida State Breakdown-
There are plenty of things to love about the Seminoles. They share the ball extremely well. The Seminoles only have two players averaging double figure points. Mfiondu Kabengele leads the way with 12.9 points per game. He hasn’t started a game all season. Terance Mann is second on the team with 11.2 points per game. Mann also leads the Seminoles with 6.4 rebounds per game from the wing position. Clearly, the Seminoles like to share the wealth. They have elite size in the paint.
Moreover, the Seminoles have nine players scoring at least 4.7 points per game. Keep an eye on freshman Devin Vassell, who leads the Seminoles at 44 percent from 3-point range. He only averages 10.2 minutes per game over the course of the season. However, Vassell averaged 17 minutes per game during the ACC Tournament. He scored 14 points in the win over Virginia Tech. Vassell didn’t score in the win over Virginia. Mainly, because he only got one shot attempt. That’s how different the Seminoles can look from moment to moment.
The Seminoles are scoring 74.9 points per game. They are giving up 67.1 points per game. That equates to a 7.8 scoring differential. Keep in mind, the Seminoles are (16-17) against the spread. They are (14-17) vs. the over.
Both teams can be elite defensively. However, the Catamounts are No. 13 in scoring defense. This may get dicey for the Seminoles. Fortunately, they are constructed well and should be able to play through any on-court problems. Still, beware of the bad turnovers at inopportune times. The Seminoles have a habit of making weird plays down the stretch of close games.
Pick: Florida State 70 – Vermont 68