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March 9, 2012
ATLANTA-- No. 17 Florida State learned who its first ACC tournament opponent would be late Thursday night.
With a 54-36 win over Georgia Tech, Miami set up a rubber match between the league's two Sunshine State schools, scheduled to tip off at p.m. ET Friday night on ESPN2.
FSU (21-9, 12-4) won the first meeting between the two teams in Tallahassee 64-59, but Miami (19-11, 9-7) bounced back with a 78-62 win in Coral Gables.
"It's our rivalry game, and we definitely want to win," UM guard Durand Scott said. "The ﬁrst time, they got us. The second time, we got them. You could be prepared for both teams going head-to-head, just going at it. Very physical basketball, neither team is going to want to lose. We're going to play our hardest and execute exactly what our coach tells us to do and may the best team win."
In addition to being prepared for a physical game, Florida State is also preparing to defend a guard heavy lineup from the Hurricanes.
With center Reggie Johnson declared ineligible just before tip off of the second game, UM was forced to go small against the Seminoles. The lineup paid off for UM coach Jim Larranaga as his team hit nine three-pointers in the victory.
Johnson's absence caught FSU a little off guard in the last meeting, but FSU associate head coach Stan Jones said this week when going over the scouting report for UM, the Seminoles worked on preparing for a guard heavy attack that UM employed even with Johnson on Thursday night against the Yellow Jackets.
"They even went to a five-guard lineup at one time, they had (guards) DeQuan Jones and McKinney Jones at the four and five spots," Jones said. "I think we could see some of that and we've also spent a little time the last couple days in preparation for that, which we didn't have that before we played them in Coral Gables because we were expecting Reggie Johnson to play. We've worked on both (lineups) the last couple days in our scouting preparations."
As far as the NCAA tournament goes, the only question left for the Seminoles is how high of a seed can they earn? For Miami, it isn't so simple.
ESPN Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi still has the Hurricanes in his list of the first four teams out of the tournament field, but thinks that a second win over FSU could be enough to punch UM's dance ticket.
FSU guard Michael Snaer said on Tuesday that no matter who his team was playing, they would be able to match the other team's desperation because they are equally determined to make run for the league title.
"We're desperate too," Snaer said. "This is something we've never done. The ACC championship - that hasn't been done (here). We're desperate too. We want one so bad."