At 14-1, FSU basketball is now preparing for a five game stretch that could go down as the most important games in the 70 years of the program.
45 years ago, the Florida State Seminoles played for the national championship in men’s basketball for the first – and still only – time in program history, losing to the UCLA dynasty by just five points. It’s the deepest in the tournament that FSU basketball has gone, reaching the Elite Eight just once during the 1992-93 season.
For the 2016-17 ‘Noles, a historic start for the program has them sitting at 14-1 on the year and ranked No. 12 nationally, the highest ranking since the days of that Elite Eight team with Charlie Ward, Sam Cassell and Doug Edwards. Now, the Seminoles find themselves looking at a five game stretch that isn’t just huge…it’s not just gigantic…
These are the most important five games in the history of the FSU basketball program.
It’s not very easy to say that, considering the ‘Noles have had some success in the early 1990’s and about a half decade ago when it comes to the tournament. But this team, led by Dwayne Bacon along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes and freshman Jonathan Isaac among others, has the chance to go deep in the tournament…as in Final Four deep if they keep playing this way.
Here’s a look at the next five games for the Seminoles (all rankings as of this week’s AP Poll):
"Saturday – vs. No. 21 Virginia TechTuesday – vs. No. 8 DukeSaturday, January 14th – at No. 14 North CarolinaWednesday, January 18th – vs. No. 23 Notre DameSaturday, January 21st – vs. No. 9 Louisville"
After getting a huge resume road win at now No. 11 Virginia this past weekend and a win over No. 23 Florida that keeps looking better if the Gators keep winning, the Seminoles have a chance to turn this season from great to magical with this five game stretch.
If FSU basketball can come out of it with AT LEAST a 3-2 record, that would put the Seminoles at 17-3 entering the final third of the regular season and still in the top part of the ACC standings. A 4-1 or even 5-0 record would put the ‘Noles into serious tournament title talk and prove this team isn’t faking it.
The Seminoles have to come out with a winning record, especially with four of the games being at home, if they want to be in consideration for a high seed in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. FSU basketball plays five of their next seven on the road after the stretch and will still have two games each against Miami and Clemson (both teams receiving votes this week) as well as one game each on the road against Duke, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
It’s commonly believed that 20 wins is the mark you need to at least reach to be considered a tournament team – even in a talent deep conference like the ACC. A strong start to the year means a 6-10 finish would get FSU to that mark…but that’s not good enough for this team. If the ‘Noles want to sit comfortably in the tournament, that record needs to be flipped to at least 10-6 – making the following five games the most important in program history.