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ACC Tournament Gives FSU One More Tourney Shot

The common feeling going into Florida State’s home and regular-season finale Sunday was that the ‘Noles could play themselves onto the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble with a win against #11 Syracuse. For a while, that looked likely. The Seminoles fought through a tough Orange zone, and came within one of the lead in the second half. But ubiquitous second (and third, and fourth) chance opportunities for Syracuse doomed FSU, and ‘Cuse pulled away, leaving Tallahassee with a 74-58 victory.

At present, it’s difficult to find a tourney field projection that includes Florida State. They finished 18-12 overall, and 9-9 in the ACC, which tied them for seventh in a league that will probably see five tourney invitations. After FSU’s Sunday loss, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has dropped the ‘Noles from the “First Four Out” to the “Next Four Out” in his bracketology released today. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports also excludes the Seminoles from his latest projected field.

The Seminoles’ main issue has been a lack of quality wins. They got off to a nice start, claiming early season victories against VCU, ranked 10th at the time, and UMass, ranked #22 when the teams met. But that feels even longer ago than it was. FSU dropped a one-point contest to the currently top-ranked Florida Gators, and forfeited a substantial lead in the final moments to lose to the Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverines. Conference play hasn’t gone much better. Florida State lost to first-place Virginia. And second-place Syracuse, and the teams that tied for third, UNC and Duke.

All of this brings us to the ACC Tournament, which begins on Wednesday in Charlotte. The ‘Noles take to the hardwood Thursday at noon as the 9 seed, and they simply must beat 8 seed Maryland. But that’s not all. The winner of that game advances to play 1 seed UVA on Thursday, and the Seminoles have to win that game as well. That would advance them to the semi-finals, where they would most likely encounter the red-hot North Carolina Tar Heels. I think FSU has to gain this victory as well. That would be two top-15 teams in two days, which should be enough, although it will be far from easy.

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