Florida State Seminoles
Good Wins: Clemson (twice), at Virginia Tech, vs. North Carolina (ACC Tournament)
Bad Losses: None (worst losses were at Northwestern and at Miami)
1. Toney Douglas. The Atlanta, GA product erupted for Florida State this season. In his senior year, Douglas averaged 21.1 points per game while running the Seminoles’ offense. He also hit more than 44 percent of his field goals, including 38 percent from three-point range. In front of hometown fans at the ACC Tournament, Douglas did not disappoint in leading FSU to the title game. He combined for 52 points in last-second wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina. While Douglas will need some help in order for the ‘Noles to make a deep run in the Big Dance, he has the ability to single-handedly take over games, both from the outside and with penetration.
2. Size. Uche Echefu, Chris Singleton, and Ryan Reid are all 6’9” forwards. Center Solomon Alabi stands at 7’1”. Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton gives every one of those big men no less than an everage of 19 minutes per game. While the foursome does not pretend to be an offensive juggernaut, the size does come in handy in the rebounding department and on defense. Alabi averages more than two blocks a game and Singleton rejects an average of 1.3 shots per outing.
3. Depth. Hamilton has luxury of rotating nine guys on a consistent basis. Nine players average at least 13 minutes per game and eight log more than 17.4 minutes of court time per contest. That was a major asset for the Seminoles throughout the regular season, but it could be especially crucial in the NCAA Tournament, where a team must win four games in no less than 11 days to reach the Final Four and two more to win the National Championship.
1. Offensive versatility. When Douglas is off, the Seminoles struggle. Their big men are all capable of scoring and both Echefu and Singleton can make defenders play them away from the basket with decent outside shots, but none of Douglas’ teammates is a consistent offensive force. If Douglas is not producing at an extraordinary level, Alabi will have to exploit any mismatches down low or Echefu, Derwin Kitchen, and Deividas Dulkys will have to be dialed in from long range.
2. NCAA Tournament experience. Shockingly, Floridat State has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1998. That mean’s none of its players has any prior taste of the spectacle that is the Big Dance. How will they react to college basketball’s biggest stage? The Seminoles won’t have any time to get adjusted as they face a tough 5 vs. 12 game against Wisconsin.
A perennial bubble team, Florida State has missed out on the NCAA Tournament 10 seasons in-a-row. Hamilton must make sure that his players are not just happy to be there. They shouldn’t be as a No. 5 seed with a solid chance of reaching at least the Sweet 16, but you never know how a relatively newcoming team will perform under pressure. The Seminoles’ ACC Tournament semifinal stunner over North Carolina should convince them that belong with any opponent at any time.
Sweet 16. Getting a 5 seed as opposed to a 4, being shipped across the country to Boise, Idaho, and facing a Big 10 team in the first round is probably not what Florida State had in mind after an impressive weekend in Atlanta. Nonetheless, there is no reason why these Seminoles cannot advance to the Sweet 16 out of a pod that includes them, Wisconsin, Xavier, and Portland State. Douglas will be the best player on the court in each of the Seminoles’ two games in Boise (if they play two games), and look for him to come through in the clutch. At that point, however, powerhouse Pittsburgh probably looms too large.