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Preview: No. 19 Florida State Seminoles seek statement win over No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies

The Florida State Seminoles have made a habit of upsetting ranked ACC opponents. Their next foe: The Virginia Tech Hokies, who are currently tied with the Seminoles in the ACC standings.

Florida State v Notre Dame
Florida Sate’s Ta’Niya Latson (with ball) has been one of the country’s most dynamic offensive players in her freshman season.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The No. 19 Florida State Seminoles (20-6; 9-4 ACC) are one of the more pleasant surprises in the ACC this season, and they’ll get an opportunity for a tournament resume-boosting win against the No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies (19-4; 9-4 ACC) on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network and will tip-off at 2 p.m. ET.

The Seminoles, led by freshman sensation Ta’Niya Latson, are playing their best basketball in years. In head coach Brooke Wyckoff’s second full season at the helm, Florida State has climbed back into ACC relevancy, earning several key wins over ranked rivals such as No. 16 Duke (Jan. 29) and No. 11 NC State (Jan. 12).

Florida State will now get a crack at one of the ACC’s best in Virginia Tech. The Seminoles had previously defeated the Hokies in nine-straight matchups before losing to them last season, a time when the programs seemed to be headed in opposite directions.

Florida State has been rejuvenated, however, thanks in large part to Latson, who is currently leading the ACC in scoring at 22.1 points per game. The dynamic young guard was recently named to several midseason watch lists for national player of the year awards, such as the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy. and she’s also been nominated for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, given annually to the best shooting guard in the country. It’s a foregone conclusion that Latson will be heavily considered for National Freshman of the Year honors when the time comes, too.

While Florida State relies on Latson and the rest of its perimeter players to power a fast-paced offense — Her Hoop Stats ranks the Seminoles No. 8 in the country in possessions per 40 minutes — Virginia Tech’s offense is much more methodical, playing through All-American and reigning ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley. The 6-foot-6 center is one of three players in the country currently averaging at least 18 points and 11 rebounds per game (DePaul’s Aneesah Morrow and LSU’s Angel Reese are the others) and forms a potent inside-out duo with guard Georgia Amoore (2.8 made 3-pointers per game) that forces opposing defenses to choose whether to double-team the post or play the Hokies for the outside shot.

Interestingly, the Seminoles rank as the better defensive playmaking team, coming in at No. 9 in the country in blocked shot rate (13.4 percent; Her Hoop Stats), but the Hokies will have the advantage on the glass, with Kitley standing four inches taller than Florida State center Makayla Timpson. Pace of play will be important here, with Florida State’s usual approach of pushing the ball and drawing fouls a stark contrast to Virginia Tech’s halfcourt offense. If the Seminoles can play at their usual pace and not let Virginia Tech grind them down with offensive rebounds, they’ll have a good shot at downing yet another ranked opponent and moving ahead of the Hokies in the ACC standings.