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Wake Forest vs. Florida State Preview: Q&A w/ Tomahawk Nation

I talked with Michael Rogner of Tomahawk Nation in anticipation of Saturday's contest against the Florida State Seminoles.

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Blogger So Dear: FSU enters the contest with an overall record of 15-7, including 5-5 in the ACC, and is currently 40th in Ken Pom. Is this about what you and other FSU fans expected at the start of the season?

Tomahawk Nation: It's where reasonable fans thought they'd be. In our preseason projections I had Florida State as an 11-seed in the tourney. And in pretty much every bracket they're somewhere right around the bubble. More casual fans always think that Florida State is as talented as the blue bloods, and won't bother tuning in if FSU isn't ranked. But it is what it is. The Noles are playing well, and have overcome some big injuries.

BSD: Do you think FSU is in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament? If not, what do you think FSU has to do over the rest of the regular season and in the ACC Tournament to make the Big Dance?

TN: Well, if the season ended today I'm pretty sure they'd be in. But there's a long way to go. If they finish 5-3, they're in. At 4-4 there's a decent chance, but maybe they'd need at least one or maybe two in the ACCT. At 3-5 or worse, then they're probably looking at a deep run in the ACCT if not winning it all. Luckily, the schedule was front loaded, so there will be opportunities for the team to go out and earn wins, starting with Wake Forest.

BSD: Florida State has had two excellent recruiting classes in a row (2015 and 2016). What do you attribute that to? Local products? The success of the football program? Recent ACC Tournament Championship?

TN: It's kind of been a perfect storm. The Gators went through a coaching change. There has been a lot of local (Florida/Georgia) talent. The players have grown up with FSU being one of the better programs in the ACC, and the football team doesn't hurt. The last piece of the puzzle was replacing two good developmental coaches (who got head coaching gigs) with great recruiters. The difference fans have to get used to though is that FSU has been in on a bunch of higher profile recruits which really brings out the dark side of recruiting. There were two top-30 players this cycle who were considered heavy leans if not locks to the Noles, and both of them ended up choosing Adidas schools.

BSD: FSU plays at a very fast tempo (47th nationally) probably due to the athleticism of their guards, but they also turn it over at a very high rate. Do you wish they would play a little bit slower, or is that something you have to sacrifice in order to take advantage of the athleticism?

TN: They need to play faster. With the depleted front court, FSU is always in a 4-guard lineup (except when they're in a 5-guard lineup) and every stop needs to be a fast break. That's when they are at their best. Coach Hamilton has stated a number of times that the team isn't playing nearly as fast as they're trying to get them to play. Malik Beasley in particular is something to see in transition. But Dwayne Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and Devon Bookert are also all guys who can kill teams in transition.

BSD: Finally, let's get a prediction for this one.

TN: This will be a great test for FSU. They've been playing well of late, but have a bad habit this season of taking teams lightly. That's the youth factor. I'm afraid they might look at Wake's 1-9 record and not really consider them to be as good as they really are. So if the upperclassmen can keep them focused, I think they'll be alright. But I'm not sure that will happen. It will probably be a really close game, and I'll take the Noles by two or three.

Again, many thanks to Michael Rogner of Tomahawk Nation for taking the time to answer my questions. You can follow him on Twitter @TN_Hoops.

You can also check out Riley's answers HERE.