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NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballFlorida State SeminolesMiami (FL) Hurricanes

Miami at Florida State: Game Preview, Prediction

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Two teams battling to stay afloat in the ACC meet Sunday afternoon in Tallahassee when the 23rd-ranked Miami Hurricanes visit the Florida State Seminoles. It’s already been a tough week for the Hurricanes, who figure to slip out of the new AP Poll to be released Monday thanks to an embarrassing 70-50 loss at home to a Georgia Tech team that entered that game 0-7 in the league. FSU (11-10, 3-5) needed double overtime to finally push aside Wake Forest, 82-76, in its last outing.

These teams each have a standout player who can make the difference in this game, but those players in particular are on trends that are headed in the opposite direction. For Florida State, the man to watch is freshman guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, an Ontario native who has come to life of late. He announced his presence with authority in the Seminoles’ recent 78-74 loss at North Carolina, scoring 35 points. Over the last four games, Rathan-Mayes is averaging 22 PPG and has been the focus of the FSU offense, taking 71 shots and shooting 46.5 percent.

Rathan-Mayes also brings more to the table than scoring, h0wever. In the last four games, he’s also dished out 22 assists, good for 5.5 per game. He tied his career high with nine assists in FSU’s 59-55 win at Clemson on Jan. 19., a game in which Rathan-Mayes also scored 19, making him in some way responsible for well over half of Florida State’s points that night.

When Miami has been good this season, the Hurricanes have been led by guard Angel Rodriguez. He nearly single-handedly guided Miami past Virginia several weeks ago before the Hurricanes fell in double overtime to the still undefeated Cavaliers. He posted 24 points, five assists and five steals in Miami’s demolition of Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

But lately, Rodriguez hasn’t been himself. The junior guard from Puerto Rico has just 30 points in his last four games (7.5 PPG) and didn’t score at all in the shock loss to the Yellow Jackets, playing only 15 minutes. This from a player second on his team with 13.7 PPG for the season while playing about 31 minutes a night. Rodriguez’s shooting from the field has been particularly terrible of late. He is 5-for-37 from the field in that span, good for just 13.5 percent.

If you believe that the current trends for each team will continue, you have to go with Florida State here. Whether Rodriguez is hurt or he is just simply in a slump, you can’t believe he is going to have a breakout game until you see it. Rathan-Mayes, on the other hand, is bringing the goods for FSU.

Prediction: Florida State 62, Miami 58.

Ed Morgans is an ACC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @writered21 and add him to your network on Google.