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Previewing Miami-FSU Hoops Showdown with Michael Rogner of Tomahawk Nation

How will Wednesday night's game play out? Which player on FSU is reminiscent of a former 'Canes star? That and much more....

Kevin C. Cox

Yes, we know.

Miami-FSU is still better known for Wide Right I, II, and III and the seven eight National Championships they have combined for in football.

But these two rivals have also won the last two ACC Tournament Championships in hoops, and are starting to make some noise again this year on the hardwood.

We caught up with Tomahawk Nation's Basketball Guru Michael Rogner, to get the scoop on the Noles, Wednesday Night's game, and much more.

Here is our full Q&A:

SOTU: Coming off the National Championship in Football, is there a buzz around hoops amongst Seminoles fans?

MR: Actually, it's probably decreased the buzz around hoops. Typically fans are ready to move on after whatever bowl we've just played in, but now fans are wrapped up in the post season coverage. I accepted long ago that FSU will never be one of those schools that promotes and follows all the major sports, and this year just reinforces that belief. Since the ACC expanded the Noles have won more games than everyone but Duke and UNC, yet the FSU budget remains near the bottom of the conference and only the hardcore show up for any team that isn't a national name. FSU fans don't understand basketball, and they really don't understand what kind of program they have. FSU is outspent by virtually all of its conference foes, yet the Noles haven't had a losing conference season in 6 years. Everyone expects FSU basketball to be like FSU football, yet FSU football outspends everyone, so they should dominate. FSU hoops operates on a mid-major budget.

SOTU: How does FSU beat really good teams like UMass and VCU, just barely lose to Florida,  yet lose to Minnesota and Virginia?

MR: Losing to Minnesota and Virginia is nothing to be down about, as both are solid teams. But FSU did lose. The Noles are elite on the defensive end, but average on offense, which means they'll probably be in just about every game they play, but they'll drop some due to the offensive struggles.

SOTU: From what I have seen of the Seminoles this year, they like to get up and down a little more then your average Coach Hamilton team, yet still play smothering D.  What is the true identity of this team?

MR: This team reminds me of Derwin Kitchen/Chris Singleton's final year. The defense is just smothering, and on offense they want to run at every opportunity. In transition this team is MUCH more efficient than in the half court. The level of athleticism is off the charts and Ian Miller and Devon Bookert are built for running the break. But that also makes the Noles easy to gameplan against - everyone wants to slow the game down to a crawl and force FSU to execute in half court sets. Miami, being the slowest team in the nation, fits this mold perfectly. Unless FSU can build a lead and make Miami force the tempo a bit, this will be an ugly, grinding game.

SOTU: 6'9 freshman Jarquez Smith averages just 3+ points a game but looks scary talented.  How good can this kid be long term? Who's game does he most remind you of?

MR: He's 6-9 with long arms, has a good feel for the game, and is a good 3-point shooter. He reminds me a lot of a young Kenny Kadji. The problem is that he's never been forced to play inside. All of his high school career he drifted on the perimeter and shot 3s. Like Kadji, he needs to completely shift his mindset in order to be successful in college. He's made great progress this year, so I'm encouraged, but he's got a long way to go.

SOTU: What other players on FSU should Canes fans be worried about/keep an eye on?

MR: Aside from the seniors (Ian Miller, Okaro White) 6-5 sophomore Aaron Thomas has been the most impressive player. Coach Hamilton thinks he'll be the best defensive guard that he's ever coached (I think he's already there), but he also has an offensive game. He plays angry, and he's always looking to get to the rim. It's a no brainer that I'd pick him as the team MVP right now, and he doesn't even start. The other guys to watch are the center tandem of 7-3 Boris Bojanovsky and 7-1 Michael Ojo. Neither were expected to play huge roles this year, but 7-0 senior Kiel Turpin has missed the entire season with knee issues. In his place, Bojo and Ojo have been really effective. Both have a long ways to go, but compared to last year (they were overwhelmed freshmen) they look like completely different players.

SOTU: How many/which teams do you see making the NCAA Tournament from the ACC?

MR: We went through this exercise last week, and all three of us picked Syracuse, Duke, Pitt, Virginia, UNC, and Florida State. I added a 7th team which was Clemson. But at this point North Carolina has a lot of work to do. How in the world are they 0-3? I've never been on the "Roy is only a recruiter" bandwagon, but good lord, I'm not sure any team in the nation has done less with more than UNC is doing right now.

SOTU: How does thing game play out and who wins?

MR: FSU has got to figure out a way to get Miami out of their stalling offense. If the Noles build a double digit lead at any point in the game then I don't think Miami can come back. UM would have to speed up, which would greatly benefit the Noles. If Miami can stay close or lead, then the game will be a grinder. That said, Miami has a pretty solid defense and I think they'll control the tempo. Ultimately, I'll take FSU, but I feel that it will come down to the final few possessions.

Thanks again to Michael Rogner with TN for working with us.  Be sure to check out the game at 9PM EST Wednesday Night at the BUC.