Join Warchant.com's Live Blog: No. 3 FSU vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure (2:45 p.m ET)Click NASHVILLE, Tenn. - What will Florida State need to do to get past No. 14 seed St. Bonaventure today? Warchant.com examines three keys. The game will tip off at approximately 2:45 p.m. ET.Here to view this Link.
1. Locking on Nicholson
There's no secret to stopping St. Bonaventure - it starts with stopping 6-9 standout Andrew Nicholson. Problem is, few teams have figured out how to do that. Nicholson, a future NBA draft pick who ranks No. 33 nationally in scoring at 18.4 points per game, has only gotten stronger down the stretch. He has scored at least 19 points in each of his last 11 games and has scored 25 or more in six of his past eight.
Nicholson is No. 15 in the nation in field goal percentage (57.6 percent), No. 44 in blocked shots per game (1.97) and 69th in rebounds per game. He is also a 72 percent free throw shooter and a 39 percent shooter from 3-point range to boot.
"He's a really solid big man," said FSU's Bernard James, who will be charged with containing Nicholson today. "I've done a little bit of homework on him. He's a first round prospect for the NBA and the guy can score away from the basket, near the basket. Pretty physical, relentless on the boards. So, we're going to have our work cut out for us."
Florida State is 6th in Division I-A in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 38.6 percent shooting this season.
2. Keep up the hot shooting
The good defense has been constant, but it has been FSU's offensive efficiency that has helped fuel its recent run.
The Seminoles are shooting 49.8 percent from the field (107 of 215) and 50 percent from 3-point range (34 for 68) over the past four games. Guard Michael Snaer is a ridiculous 14 of 19 from behind the arc (73.6 percent) in that stretch.
James attributed the recent offensive success to improved communication on the court.
"I think everything we've done right over the past four, five games, it's been because of communication," James said. "My team, we've reached another level of closeness. We're talking all the time on the court. It's basically what our coach has been trying to get us to do since day one. And it's a little easier said than done, but once you get that mindset, the mindset we're in now of talking constantly, just letting your teammates know every single thing you're doing, where you're at on the court."
St. Bonaventure is holding opponents to 41.6 percent shooting from the field (No. 95 nationally) and 32.4 percent from 3-point range (96th).
3. Pounding the glass
St. Bonaventure has been successful on the boards this season, outrebounding its competition by 5.5 rebounds per game, which ranks No. 28 in the nation. Florida State sports a +3.4 rebounding margin, but it has allowed its opponent to clear at least 15 offensive rebounds in three of its past five games.
Florida State will have the height advantage across the front line - the Seminoles are among the tallest teams in Division I - but the Bonnies also sport height in the backcourt like FSU. St. Bonaventure's three most productive guards - Demitrius Conger (6-6), Charlon Kloof (6-3) and Matthew Wright (6-4) can all match up size-wise with FSU's Deividas Dulkys (6-5), Luke Loucks (6-5) and Snaer (6-5)
"(FSU) is big, long, physical, athletic," Nicholson said. "Got to outwork them. The one that plays the hardest will do it."