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Friday, November 16, 2012
Coaches vs. Cancer Primer

By Dana O'Neil

An interesting doubleheader combo of four teams you wouldn’t normally put together but also four teams that are sort of on the game’s fringe right now. Notre Dame is ranked, Saint Joseph’s was picked to win the Atlantic 10. Still none of these teams are especially known commodities or even March locks. For all, it’s a good chance to get some big market love and perhaps more important, big nonconference win.

The basics: Nov. 16-17, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

The set matchups: BYU vs. Florida State, 7 p.m. ET: Notre Dame vs. Saint Joseph’s, 9:30 p.m.

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Michael Snaer
Florida State's Michael Snaer needs to provide senior leadership for the Seminoles.
Michael Snaer, Florida State: The senior called himself the nation’s best shooting guard this summer. He needs to play like it if the Seminoles are going to win this thing. Arguably the best player in the field, Snaer has worked on establishing his leadership skills along with his scoring for a young FSU team.

Langston Galloway, Saint Joseph’s: The guard was terrific on both ends of the floor for the Hawks in the season-opening walkover against Yale. He is the team’s cog, both the leader and their most potent scorer.

Jack Cooley, Notre Dame: The Notre Dame big man will have his hands full with St. Joe’s C.J. Aiken but then again, Cooley has had his hands full plenty in his career and never wavered. Cooley is as tough as he is efficient.

Brandon Davies, BYU: Davies got off to a rather nice start for BYU, scoring 28 in the team’s opener against Georgia State. But things came easy in that game -- at one point the Cougars led 31-2 -- and that won’t be the case here. BYU will need Davies to score but be disciplined against Florida State.

Matt Carlino, BYU: The Cougars, thanks to Davies, have the inside part of the game locked up. To be successful, they need to get the outside in order. That’s where Carlino, tabbed with the next Jimmer albatross as a freshman, comes in. He’s got the scoring and shooting ability to spread the offense and make BYU a legit threat.

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS

Was Florida State’s loss to South Alabama an aberration or a sign of trouble?

The defending ACC champions played a sloppy game offensively, committing 17 turnovers, and a lousy game defensively, allowing South Alabama to connect on 9 of 15 3-pointers. The Seminoles bounced back to beat Buffalo but still allowed the Bulls to hit 50 percent from the floor.

Can BYU’s high-octane offense score against Florida State? That’s the simple key.

This FSU defense doesn’t look like last year’s, what with the better shooting percentage that two lower-level opponents have put up. So what can the Cougars, averaging 80 points per game, do?

Will St. Joe’s be able to keep the Irish away from the arc?

The Hawks are big; they block shots and they have a good collection of scorers, but their perimeter defense has been an Achilles heel and against Notre Dame, that’s a real problem.  They were pretty dominant against Yale, holding the Bulldogs to just 35 points. But Yale doesn’t exactly shoot or score like the Irish.

Can Notre Dame use its depth as an advantage?

It should be able to. The Hawks are without Carl Jones, suspended by the university for three games, while Mike Brey has one of his deepest, more athletic teams in years. The numbers game could be huge for the Irish in this one.

Who emerges as the best big man in this one?

There are some good candidates with Cooley, Davies and Aiken. All three are different but effective at what they do and all three are hugely critical to their team. Foul trouble for any will be a big issue.

THE PICKS

Semifinals: BYU over Florida State; Notre Dame over St. Joe’s
Championship game: Notre Dame over BYU