ACC Success in the NCAA Tourney Vindicating FSU Basketball’s Rough Season?


FSU basketball had a relatively tough season this year. The ‘Noles finished the year at 17-16 and were invited to neither the NCAA nor NIT Tournament. Many were quick to chalk this season up as a disappointment for the Seminoles on the hardwood. But, given the performance of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the ongoing NCAA Tournament, not to mention an unforeseen element to which Florida State had to adjust this year, is that entirely fair?

Before the season began, FSU was considered a bubble team by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, just as the ‘Noles wound up last season, when they were just the second team excluded from the big dance before making a notable run in the NIT. But unlike last year, there was little doubt as to the Seminoles’ postseason hopes as March wore on this season. Exclusion from the NCAAs was a foregone conclusion, and even the NIT, in which Florida State made the Final Four last year, proved unattainable.

Many wrote off this year as a colossal disappointment for FSU. But recent history has shown that such a conclusion may be ill conceived.


Well, to begin, the ‘Noles lost Aaron Thomas, their best player on both offense and defense, in December. After that, the Seminoles scrapped admirably, fighting their way to an 8-10 ACC record and a victory over Clemson in the conference tourney. But after suffering defeat to the regular-season conference champion Virginia Cavaliers, Florida State saw its season come to an end. However, the NCAA Tourney performance of the ACC through which the ‘Noles navigated has spoken highly of the level of competition FSU faced this year.

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That’s because the ACC currently boasts an 11-1 NCAA Tournament record, with the lone loss coming from UVA’s fall to Michigan State and the always-formidable Tom Izzo. Top-seeded Duke, along with Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Louisville — all squads to which the ‘Noles fell this year — have all held serve, beating lower-seeded teams to advance to the Sweet 16. FSU was in a number of its games with those teams, right down until the end. Florida State lost to Virginia in a tightly contested game. To Duke by just three. To UNC by four. NC State, another team that toppled the ‘Noles (by nine in a game that was actually closer than that), knocked off No. 1 seed Villanova.

How deep has the ACC proven this year? The conference boasts an NCAA-best five teams in the Sweet 16, and it’s the only conference still able to register a regional champion from each bracket.

What does all of this mean for FSU basketball? It’s tough to tell, but it may just suggest that Florida State is a lot closer to national relevance than many realize, especially with a top-five recruiting class coming in for next season. For both the ACC — and its Seminoles — the future looks bright.