Xavier pulled off one of the few upsets on the first day knocking off Maryland 76-65. The Musketeers get a taller task now on Saturday as Florida State becomes the next opponent. The Seminoles won 86-80 in a high-scoring affair with Florida Gulf Coast.
This is a Big East vs. ACC battle between the steadiness of Xavier and the depth and length of Florida State who overwhelmed the Eagles in the first round.
West Region: No. 11 Xavier Musketeers (22-13) vs. No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (26-8)
When: 3:10 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Where: Amway Center (Orlando, Fla.)
Line: Florida State -6
Keys for Xavier
A fast start is always important for the higher seeds in these kind of games. The Musketeers cannot be intimidated by the size of the Seminoles who send waves and waves of big men at their opponents. Florida Gulf Coast had no problems driving in the first half, but then the undersized Eagles got scared and settled for a lot of jumpers. It wouldn't hurt if the Seminoles got in foul trouble.
Keys for Florida State
Use your depth to your advantage. Xavier is not a deep team so any early foul trouble for the Musketeers will be crucial. The Seminoles also have to cut down on their mental lapses which a better team than Florida Gulf Coast will take advantage of. There were several stretches where FSU had some turnovers and let the Eagles hang around.
The Seminoles have the talent to go very far in this Tournament. While I was concerned with their coaching last round, if they can keep winning games easily, Leonard Hamilton won't come into play. I think the Musketeers are a good story and always tough in March, but the run ends here.
Prediction: Florida State 77, Xavier 69
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
(Top photo courtesy of @XavierMBB)