The Florida State Seminoles finished the regular season with an overall record of 18-12, going 9-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. With a current RPI of 59, the ninth-seeded Seminoles are a bubble team heading into their conference tournament. While Florida State played a fairly strong schedule (48th per ESPN), their performance throughout the regular season left much to be desired. The Seminoles went 2-7 against the top seven seeds in the ACC, beating only Clemson and Pittsburgh. They played five potential NCAA tournament teams in their non-conference schedule to the tune of 2 wins and 3 losses (W: VCU, UMass; L: Michigan by 2, Florida by 1, Minnesota). Sporting a 4-2 in their last six games of the season, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi lists FSU as one of the “Next Four Out” in his ESPN Bracketology analysis. When all is said and done, if the Florida State Seminoles want a chance to make the Big Dance, they will need to win at least two games in the ACC tournament and hope the cards fall their way in the other conference tournaments (they don’t call it March Madness for nothing).
SECOND ROUND vs. #8 Maryland
The Seminoles blew out the Terrapins in Tallahassee back in early January, winning 85-61 in the first of two meetings. Florida State shot 50% from the field and 67%(!!!) from the long line (16 of 24), making the third highest three balls in school history. Combine that statistic with the fact that Maryland was held to 33% shooting, and you get a 24 point rout. However, Maryland got their revenge in College Park with a 83-71 victory to close out the home and home season series. The Terrapins jumped out to a 17 point lead at halftime and coasted to victory behind Seth Allen’s career-high 32 points. For those of you who struggle with reading comprehension, I’ll point out the fact that each game contained an anomaly that led to the eventual outcome. Will Florida State shoot lights out from deep again? Probably not. Will Allen go off for a career-high? Again, not very likely. These teams are quite evenly matched in the sense that nothing jumps out statistically that will help indicate a winner.* The ACC is stacked at the top, but the first round of games on Wednesday & Thursday highlight the mediocrity that composes the lower half of the conference. This game is truly a coin-flip, but Florida State has more on the line.
*Florida State ranks 183rd in the nation in points per game, averaging 71.2; Maryland is 185th with 71.1
Prediction: Florida State 71 – Maryland 70
QUARTERFINALS vs. #1 Virginia
The ACC has historically been a very strong basketball conference, and as I mentioned above, this year is no different with a solid group of teams at the top of the bracket. The addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Tobacco Road powers made this one of the more exciting conferences to watch throughout the season. However, if I had told you that Virginia would be the ACC regular season champion, you’d have treated me as if I was Milton from Office Space. The Cavaliers, led by ACC Coach of the Year Tony Bennett, were able to string together 13 straight victories during conference play to earn the top seed in the tournament. The Seminoles lost the only meeting between the two teams this season, falling 62-50 at home in the ACC opener back in January. FSU had 13 first half turnovers, allowing Virginia to build a 13 point halftime lead even without Joe Harris, the team’s second leading scorer. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, Virginia boasts the number one scoring defense in the nation, allowing only 55.4 points per game. I’m not sure Florida State has the offensive fire power or game plan to pull off the upset, but it’ll be a one possession game with under 10 seconds to go.
Prediction: Virginia 63 – Florida State 59
It was mentioned at the top of the post that Florida State needs to pull off at least two victories in the ACC tournament to bolster their NCAA tournament hopes. Unfortunately, unless the Seminoles can find a way to get past top seeded Virginia and into the conference semifinals, I think the Noles will be spending their March in the NIT.