We’re nearing the end of the regular season of college hoops and conference tournaments are almost here. Most teams have about 4 regular season games or less left. It’s time to start thinking future bets. I talked about Villanova a week or so ago and I want to touch on them first. Their offense is just ice cold. No reason to panic. They have a few games left to figure things out and may end up with a better draw. Seed means nothing to this team. In this article however, I want to touch on my favorite longshot bet to win the National Title. Here’s the thing with a longshot. We really are just hoping they at least make the sweet 16 so you can start consider hedging. The dream scenario is they make the final 4 and then your set. This team I am about to talk about though I legitimately think they can win the national title.
My longshot to win the whole thing this year is Florida State. This is a very good basketball team that isn’t getting much talk at all. I’m sure a lot of this has to do with them just getting blown out by UNC, but the thing with that game is UNC was just coming off the big road vs Duke and this was Florida State’s third straight road game. They were definitely tired or fatigued in some matter and just couldn’t hit shots. I’m not going to overreact to that one result.
The first thing I look at with Florida State is that this is an experienced team that just went to the elite 8 last year. They are currently 80/1 to win the title. When I’m looking at longshots, a huge thing for me is that the team has experience. Florida State knows how to win close games. They can come from behind with a very good full court press. They did it vs Xavier last year. I’ve seen this team and core group of guys make a run already so I don’t doubt their ability to get on a run and win 6 games in March. They even had Michigan down a good amount of that game. Their entire starting lineup was part of the team that went to the elite 8 last year. This is one of the most experienced teams in the country that knows how to win in March.
Next let’s take a look at recent form. Before that game vs UNC, the Seminoles had won 8 in a row and were one of the hottest teams in the country. They got stomped by UNC at the end of a 3 game road stretch. They’ve been playing exceptionally good basketball the last 8 games before that. During that 8 game win streak, their average margin of victory was 13.75 points just about 14 points. They have been blowing teams out. They now get to close the season with 3 straight home games vs Notre Dame, NC ST, VA Tech, and then an away game against Wake Forest. Kenpom has them projected to win all 4 of these games. I think they get at least 3 and most likely all 4. The 3 home games in a row will be huge for this team given the recent road trips.
Now it’s time to look at Florida State’s roster. They rollout a starting lineup of MJ Walker, Trent Forrest, Terance Mann, Phil Cofer, and Mfiondu Kabengele. Forest, Mann, and Cofer are all upperclassmen and Walker and Kabengele both played plenty of minutes last season. Florida State’s offense ranks 32nd nationally in efficiency. In comparison to last season, they ranked 43rd. They have improved by a solid bit. This offense is built through driving and getting points in the paint. They rank 202nd nationally in three point percentage which is really the one weakness of this team is they don’t shoot the 3 well. However, they know this and don’t jack up too many attempts. They get a lot of their points from offensive rebounds as they rank 42nd in offensive rebounding percentage right around 33% of the time. This is a scrappy team that grinds and plays physical. They create a lot of second chance opportunities and get to the line a good amount. They get about 21% of their points from the foul line which ranks top 70 nationally. This is something that can be very important come March. Being able to get to the line is extremely important especially for winning close games. The thing I love with Florida State’s style of play is that they can make any game ugly and instantly they are at an advantage because of how well they rebound and get to the foul line. Now we look at other things FSU does well. They rank 49th in the nation in steal percentage 40th in turnovers forced percentage at about 21.5%. They turn you over and pressure the ball really well. If you face FSU in the tourney, and do not have a good point guard it could be an extremely long game because at times Florida State’s ball pressure is just smothering. FSU also has the 14th ranked defense in terms of efficiency compared to last year where they ranked 33rd. Last year everyone talked about how good this defense was too and they are significantly better this year. The creation of turnovers and a lot of steals has really helped that along with just really good on ball perimeter defense and rebounding. This is a defense good enough to win them games at times when the offense is struggling. The other thing great about FSU is they have a bench. Their bench plays minutes at the 29th most amount nationally meaning they have plenty of depth for foul trouble and other situations.
Finally I want to discuss just some general things about this team and the players I really like. Florida State has really developed Kabengele and has found a legit low post threat and a reliable scorer. He also does an extremely good on the offensive glass and blocking shots on the defensive end. David Nichols has also been a big piece off the bench. The transfer from Albany has given them solid minutes and shoots the 3 decently well at 36%. Then Trent Forrest and Terance Mann are just do it all glue guys. They attack the rim and get fouled often. Both play extremely good defense and provide energy. If FSU is going to make a deep run, these two are probably going to be the main reason.
All in all I really like FSU at the 80/1 number as a longshot to win it all. I think this has huge potential to have a sweat come march. The seminoles are experienced and have a ton of grit. They play tough and force tons of turnovers. This team will be dangerous.