Phil Cofer ‘Wanted to Come’ With Florida State to Sweet 16

Sam Dodge Leonard Hamilton talking to media for the 2019 NCAA Tournament West regional semifinal.

Florida State and Gonzaga may be meeting for the 2nd-consecutive season in the NCAA Tournament West Regional semifinals. There are a few factors that should make things different than the Seminoles’ 75-60 victory over the Zags in Staples Center last March.

One of those factors? Senior wing Phil Cofer will not be available, as he was an important defender on Gonzaga star Rui Hachimura.

Cofer missed the Vermont game in the first round due to a lingering right foot injury. He was possibly slated to return for Murray State in the next round, but he discovered minutes after the Vermont win that his father, Mike, had passed away due to amyloidosis.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton confirmed Wednesday that Cofer did not make the trip to Anaheim for the Sweet 16 (or the potential Elite 8) to deal with his father’s funeral in Atlanta. Hamilton did indicate that his senior wing would have liked to play without the family tragedy.

I think Phil wanted to come to Anaheim. But we flew from Hartford to Atlanta and sat down with his parents and the arrangements and the responsibilities he had as a family. They just felt it was best for him to be there and be part of the arrangements and everything. He had planned to come back and come out with us and come back.

When fully healthy last season, Cofer led the Seminoles with 12.8 points per game, adding 5.1 rebounds. Let’s take a look at Florida State’s updated odds heading into Thursday’s rematch.

#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #4 Florida State Seminoles Betting Line

(Betting Line & Total courtesy of OddsShark.com)
Betting Line/Point Total

  • Gonzaga Bulldogs vs Florida State Seminoles
  • Thursday, March 28th – 7:09 pm ET
  • Point Spread: Gonzaga Bulldogs (-7.5)
  • Point Total: 146.5

Gonzaga vs Florida State NCAA Tournament Projection & Picks

Even without Cofer, there’s a slew of lanky shot blockers on Florida State’s roster. Mfiondu Kabengele gives them a versatile stretch big that can effectively protect the rim. Christ Koumadje also sees some minutes for the Seminoles and despite playing a limited role, the 7-foot-4 center is adept at protecting the rim and bringing down rebounds.

Our own Anthony Koon previewed Gonzaga’s offensive firepower that could counter Kabengele and Koumadje.

Gonzaga could very easily catch fire and run away with the game as Florida State just doesn’t have the offensive firepower to go toe to toe but the more likely situation is that this game is a close hard-fought and low-scoring affair. Given that Gonzaga has the ability to go off, I would advise staying away from the point total and instead to look at Florida State with the points.

Even considering Cofer will be unavailable, Gonzaga hasn’t beaten any ranked teams by double-digits all season long. Meanwhile, the Seminoles have surged recently with wins over South Region No. 1 seed Virginia and two against No. 4 seed Virginia Tech. Gonzaga will be playing for revenge and a return trip to the NCAA final, but Hamilton’s team will be playing with emotion for Cofer.

Should the Seminoles get past Gonzaga and the winner of Michigan-Texas Tech, they should get Cofer back. With that last-minute reinforcement, this is a darkhorse national title contender.

Pick: Florida State (+7.5)


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