Last season Florida State shocked most everyone by making it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. This year they did their surprises a couple of months early.
Thanks to upset victories against North Carolina and at Duke, the Seminoles have put the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the nation for that matter, on notice. If it weren’t for a couple of losses to Ivy League schools in Harvard and Princeton, this would be a top-15 team. They go into their weekend contest against Virgina ranked No. 21 in the AP poll with a 15-6 record.
They have posted 19+ wins in each of the past six seasons, but they still have been flying under the radar. Once Chris Singleton graduated last season and departed to the NBA, it appeared like the Seminoles had lost their star power, but guys have kept stepping up to lead this team.
Junior guard Michael Snaer has been the main benefactor upon Singleton’s graduation, as he has bumped his freshman-sohpomore year averages of 8.8 points up to 14.1 points per game this year, including a 21 point outing against Georgia Tech on Wednesday. He has been deadly from behind the 3-point line, making 11 of his past 14 attempts over the course of the last three games. The Dukies won’t soon forget him, as he was the one that made the buzzer-beater 3 to shock the Cameron Crazies.
Senior Bernard James has also been a key contributor, averaging 10.5 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, putting up six double-doubles this year.
But the Seminoles have been known as a defensive team for many years, and that hasn’t changed this year. They rank fourth in the country in defensive field goal percentage, holding their opponents to 37 percent. They are also ninth in the nation in blocks and 16th in steals.
Approaching the midway point of conference season, Florida State surprisingly is tops in the conference, but they still have some tough games ahead of them. They face No. 18 Virginia twice still, the first one being a home match tomorrow afternoon.
But the main question is, can they win the ACC? If they win tomorrow’s game against Virginia, they should be favored in the rest of their games this year, except for possibly the home re-match against Duke. They only face the Tar Heels once the year, so they hold the tiebreaker with them.
But Florida State won’t have many cupcake games from here on out. They close the year with a five-game stretch against some of the best teams in the conference — at NC State, vs. Duke, at Miami who looks like a possible bubble team, at Virginia, and against a Clemson team who handed the Seminoles their only conference loss of they year.
On paper, Duke and UNC look like the better teams, but Florida State doesn’t realize that. Beating both of those teams has given this bunch a sense of confidence that only a few teams in the nation have had this year, and they plan on riding that to the close of the year.