NCAA Tournament Preview:#12 Murray State Racers vs. #4 Florida State Seminoles

The Ohio Valley Conference champion Murray State will get another opportunity to build on their growing
legend when the 12th-seeded Racers (28-4) attempt to knock off 4th-seeded Florida State (28-7) on
Saturday in the NCAA Tournament West Region second-round match up at Hartford, Conn. Ja Morant,
billed as a top-five NBA draft choice, was brilliant in Murray State’s 83-64 pounding of fifth-seeded
Marquette on Thursday when he had 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds. Florida State got a tough
contest from 13-seeded Vermont, but pulled away late to find themselves against the Racers. Florida
State is a -4.5 favorite heading into this fun one on Saturday.

Ja Morant Outstanding

Casual basketball fans who may have only known the name Ja Morant from checking out NBA mock
drafts learned the full range of his game on Thursday. They also got a sample of what’s made Murray
State so successful this season: There’s more to the Racers than Morant but what he does on the floor
does not come around in the college game too often. A common school of thought is that the team with
the best player has the best prospect of winning an NCAA Tournament game. Given only a handful of
individual stars are up to Ja Morant’s level, that bodes well for Murray State. Morant’s ability to elevate his
teammates further positions the Racers to make a possible run at the Sweet 16. Murray State again
needs some offensive balance against Florida State’s long defense. In particular, the Racers must show
off their team speed to score on fast breaks against the bigger Seminoles. Guards Shaq Buchanan and
Tevin Brown, along with Morant, will have to weave through Florida State to combat its size.

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Seminoles Battle Tested

Florida State sits here after going through the ridiculous war zone that was the ACC this year. Nothing
should really surprise them, even Morant. Florida State has 6-foot-10 Mfiondu Kabengele and 7-foot-4
Christ Koumadje to clog the lane against Murray State’s slashing guards. The Seminoles guards not
allowing the Racers guards to operate with dribble-drive penetration to get the big men either out of
position or in foul trouble will be critical for the defense. Florida State ranks No. 11 in the nation in
adjusted defensive efficiency coming into its second-round match up and the Seminoles must live up to
that prior production to advance. Leonard Hamilton-coached teams often play a defensive-minded,
physical style, and this year’s takes that attribute to another level.

Pick and Prediction

Florida State’s played some great team basketball down the stretch, including a win over Virginia in the
ACC Tournament. Leonard Hamilton’s one of the most underrated head coaches in the game and their
style will give Murray State trouble. Morant will have to maybe have his best game of the season, not
necessarily statistically, for the Racers to get by the Seminoles. The Seminoles are deep though and their
style should wear down the OVC Champs. I am taking Florida State in a close game where they pull away
late. Take Florida State to win by 6-8.

More March Madness betting tips:

Reno Morelli

    Former 3/5 Cav Army Black Knights Bosnia Veteran. Former Bookie. Current expert on booze, beers and anything that requires a controller.

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    Reno Morelli

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