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Next Up - Florida State

The Fightin’ Hammies are always tough and that won’t be any different this time.

NC State v Duke
DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 15: Wendell Moore Jr. #0 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 15, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 88-73.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images
  • Date: 1/18
  • Time: 9:00
  • Venue: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center
  • Video: ESPN

Duke and Florida State have had some tremendous games the last few years, notably, from Duke’s perspective at least, including Cam Reddish’s epic game winner from 2019’s game in Tallahassee.

Duke is young and has been for the last decade. Florida State?

Less so - but not this year.

FSU lists eight freshmen and four sophomores. Naheem McCleod is the only junior but he’s a transfer. Then seven seniors - RayQuan Evans, Malik Osborne, Anthony Polite and Wyatt Wilkes are the major guys.

Leonard Hamilton lists 20 guys on the team so obviously he has a bunch of walk-ons.

These are his primary rotation guys sorted by minutes per game:

  • Caleb Mills - sophomore (6-5)
  • Malik Osborne - senior (6-9)
  • Anthony Polite - senior (6-6)
  • RaQuan Evans - senior (6-4)
  • Matthew Cleveland - freshman (6-7)
  • Jalen Warley - freshman (6-6)
  • Cam’Ron Fletcher - sophomore transfer (6-7)
  • John Butler - freshman (7-1)
  • Wyatt Wilkes - senior (6-8)
  • Tanor Ngom - senior (7-2)
  • Naheem McLeod - junior (7-4)

Of these guys, four are freshman and two weren’t at FSU last year. Toss in Covid, which has hit FSU just as it has Duke, and it’s not surprising that Florida State is a bit off recent standards.

The ‘Noles have lost to Florida (first time in a long while), Purdue (badly), Syracuse (by three), South Carolina by one and Wake Forest by 22.

As always, Hamilton likes to have a ton of really tall guys. This year it’s McLeod (7-4), Nom (7-2) and Butler (7-2). And Quincy Ballard, who doesn't play as much, is still 7-0.

Hamilton basically uses those guys to gum up things inside on defense and then has more athletic guys to shuttle in and out.

And as usual, he has plenty of those. It’s just that between youth and Covid, he hasn’t really been able to get enough reps in for them to flourish.

Duke had a similar situation last season obviously.

Unlike most years, Duke has a counter to FSU’s size in Mark Williams but it won’t surprise us if the ‘Noles manage to give Paolo Banchero trouble. They have a ton of guys to run at him.

It’s a tough game to get a fix on honestly. But keep this in mind: with AJ Griffin in the lineup, Duke’s starting five is 7-0, 6-10, 6-7, 6-6 and 6-5. It’s unusual for Duke to meet FSU with a similarly sized lineup.

In general, we think Duke is the better team, not just because of the record but because the group has coalesced well. Florida State will probably get there as well but it may take them longer, given the challenges that youth and Covid have presented. But Florida State is always a tough out, especially down there. For what it’s worth, DraftKings has Duke at -4.5.