Number 18/19 ranked Florida State hits the road as it begins a stretch of 15 consecutive ACC games. First up on the slate is a Sunday 5:30 tip-off at Maryland. The game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports.
Gary Williams' 9-4 club isn't receiving the type of national attention they have become accustomed to in College Park. The Terrapins' record makes no difference to the Seminole players who will be making their first trip to Maryland in two years.
"We are playing a great team, but I am going to get amped up regardless of who we playing," freshman guard Michael Snaer said. "I have the highest confidence we can go there and steal one away from Maryland on their home court."
When it comes to preparing for the Terps, who average 80 points per game, it comes down to being prepared for the two key components of their offensive attack.
"We have to do the best we can against their flex motion (offense) and then their fast breaks," sophomore guard Deividas Dulkys said. "You have to really know your defensive principles and go and execute them."
The Maryland offense starts with All-ACC candidate Greivis Vasquez. The senior guard has scored 20 or more points in five consecutive games and is averaging 17.3 points and 6.2 assists per game.
Vasquez isn't the Terps only weapon, or the only player with experience. He is joined by senior forward Landon Milbourne (14.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and senior guard Eric Hayes (11.3 ppg, 3.3 apg).
"They have three experienced seniors that have been there and done that," head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They have been through wars and set the tone that all the other players follow. They probably have one of the more experienced teams in the league. So they are not rattled, they understand what to expect, and they don't have a bunch of young guys trying to make adjustments that they are depending on. I think that is what separates them probably from a lot of other teams in the league."
Nevertheless, Maryland tends to go as Vasquez goes.
"It is always hard to guard Vasquez," Dulkys said. "It is good to prove him wrong. We are going to see how that works out. It is important. Every team in the ACC has someone really great and he is one of those guys that we are going to have to go against this year."
"He is a handful, he is more than one guy can handle," Hamilton added. "You just have to make him work for what he gets. You just can't allow it to be easy for him. You have to keep him working as much as possible. You aren't ever really going to stop a guy like that but you try to make him work hard and earn it."
In addition to Maryland's three veterans, a sophomore and newcomer give the Terps some additional punch.
"They have pretty much the same guard lineup they had last year but they have added (Sean) Mosley, who is a sophomore guard that plays really strong and aggressive, and he is probably their best defender," junior wing Jordan DeMercy said. "They added a big man, last year they had a 6-foot-6 white walk-on and this year they have a big body banger down low who is putting up some pretty good numbers."
Mosley has emerged as Maryland's third leading scorer (13.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) as a sophomore and replaced Adrian Bowie in the starting lineup. Center Jordan Williams, who checks in at 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, is averaging 8.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
If the Seminoles come up with a victory on Sunday, it would mark their first ever win in the Comcast Center. More importantly, FSU would begin its ACC season 2-0 for just the second time ever in program history. It would also mark the first time opening up in the ACC with two consecutive wins on the road in the first two conference games.
"We are expecting to win," Dulkys said. "That is the ultimate goal in the whole season, to try to win every ACC game."
"That would be a great accomplishment," DeMercy added. "If you start 2-0 and win two games in a row on the road, then you are going to start turning heads."