Playing at Tallahassee has come to be regarded in some quarters as the ACC basketball equivalent of a trip to a medical practitioner with a particularly unpleasant specialty. Fill in your own blank with something painful, perhaps awkward, and certain to cause anxiety.
| Best Field Goal Percentage Defense By ACC Squads Since 1964,
When League Began Reporting Both Teams' Statistics
|* Through games of January 1, 2011
# Reached Final Four
Under Leonard Hamilton, Florida State men's teams routinely play hard-nosed, aggressive, physical defense, especially at home. They may not score all that much overall - 10th in the ACC last season (68.2 points per game) and 7th so far in 2011 (72.9) - but their opponents don't exactly light up the scoreboard, either.
Last year FSU hit at a .452-percent clip from the floor (fifth in the ACC) while holding opponents to .377 accuracy, second-stingiest in modern ACC history.
This season through 14 games the conversion rate on opponents' field goals is 34.0 percent - that would shatter the record imposed by Wake Forest (.364) in 1997, when Tim Duncan was a shot-blocking senior. Florida State's shooting also has declined compared to 2010, to 43.8 percent, 10th in the conference.
Not surprisingly given the difficulty opponents had in making shots, Hamilton's club led the ACC in blocks in 2010, was second in steals per game, and third in rebounding margin. This year Florida State again ranks first in blocked shots, leads in rebound margin (+8.3), and is third in steals as the conference schedule dawns.
Individual excellence keys team success. FSU's Solomon Alabi, an NBA second-rounder, paced the league in rejections per game in 2010 (2.3), with Chris Singleton fifth. This season Singleton and teammate Bernard James are tied for fourth-best (2.1) in the ACC.
Singleton, last year's leader in steals per game (2.2) trailed only Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert in that statistical category through the dawn of 2011 (2.6 versus 2.4).
Maryland's field goal defense is also notably stingy, holding opponents to a .375 percent conversion rate so far. If maintained through year's end, that would be the third-best field goal percentage defense in modern ACC history.
The Terrapins rank second in rebounding margin (+6.8), third in blocks (6.2 per game), and fifth in steals (7.2) through 13 games in 2011. Big man Jordan Williams ranked as the ACC leader on Jan. 1 in total rebounds and defensive rebounds. (Offensive rebounds too, for that matter.)
Here's a trend worth deeper analysis in the future: In each of the first three seasons following ACC expansion (2006-08), a single team held opponents under 40 percent shooting. In 2009 three teams did it, led by FSU at .387. In 2010 five teams did it, paced by FSU at .377. So far in 2011 four teams are holding opponents under 40 percent, led by Florida State.
Included among this year's practitioners of penury is Duke (.398), which forced .369 shooting by Miami in the Jan. 2 ACC opener for both clubs.