NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16: Michael Snaer #21 of the Florida State Seminoles takes a lay up after the buzzer against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The similarities between the Bearcats and the Seminoles are there for everyone to see. Neither team is truly that great offensively. UC averages 1.05 Points Per Possession, the Seminoles are averaging 1.03 PPP on the year. The greatest strengths and weaknesses for the Cats and the Noles are basically a ying and a yang effect. What UC does best FSU does worst and vice versa. The greatest strength for the UC offense isn't a conventional strength like shooting a high percentage. It's simply not making mistakes. The lack of turnovers and the excellent offensive rebounding allows UC to keep possessions alive. In truth the best offense that UC runs is the one where someone misses badly, so badly that is in effect a pass to Yancy Gates who discards his man and gets an easy two.The Bearcats are the quintessential second shot offense.
FSU is the opposite. They are a very good shooting team partly because they work very hard to get quality looks at the basket. Those looks aren't usually coming from three point land which helps to bring the shooting averages up. They have a classic inside outside thing going with Bernard James and a nifty array of outside shooters led by Deivdas Dulkys, Ian Miller, Luke Loucks and Michael Snaer, more on that later. The Noles attack the interior to set up perimeter shots.
Ying and Yang baby
When you look at these two teams its hard not to notice that the Bearcats and Seminoles are on the opposite poles of offensive strategy. As mentioned above the two approaches are almost perfectly opposite the other. And it goes beyond strategy. Simply looking at the size of the lineups has the same effect. The Bearcats start four guards, all 6'4" or under, and Yancy Gates. the Seminoles start 5 guys 6'5" or taller. And finally the point I am most interested in is that the Bearcats have had and rotating cast of X factors throughout this season. At various points Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, JaQuon Parker and Sean Kilpatrick have carried the moniker. Right now Yancy Gates is the X factor for this team.
The Seminoles have one. Snaer. He is what makes the difference for the Seminoles. Without him they would be a very good team. A team that would win 20+ games and pretty easily make the NCAA tournament. But when he is on the same team becomes a giant slaying tournament champion and a legitimate top 15 team in the entire country.
The St. Bonnaventure game put that fact on display for all to see. Against the Bonnies he played 23 minutes, missed every shot and scored zero points. The only contribution he made to the effort were four defensive rebounds. The Noles still advanced, but a game that should have been a relative walk in the park was instead a three point game.
FSU can beat UC without Snaer going off. They have the kind of defense that can make the Bearcats offense implode in on itself. Darrne Savino likened the Noles to South Florida but longer and even more proficient defensively. Its an apt comparison. And that's what makes keeping Snaer in check so important. If FSU can marry their usual defensive prowess to a great performance from Snaer it will be curtains for UC because it will be very hard to keep pace with the FSU offense. But if the Cats can keep Snaer in single digits the game will be a taught, tight affair that goes down to the last two minutes. I will take my chances with that scenario.