FSU basketball is still in the race to do something that hasn’t happened before – win the ACC basketball regular season title.
For much of the last five seasons, fans of FSU basketball have been resigned to wondering if the Seminoles will be able to even make it to the post season – with the NCAA Tournament being a pipe dream in most cases.
Now, not only do the Seminoles appear heading back to the big dance for the first time since 2012, but they are on a course to be one of the top two or three seeds in a region – something that has only happened three times before in the previous 11 tournaments they have been in with seeds.
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Of course, their chances to get at that level will be enhanced if FSU basketball can do something that hasn’t happened before – winning the ACC regular season title. After this weekend’s action, the Seminoles are just one game behind the North Carolina Tar Heels for that honor.
With that, here are the three reasons why FSU basketball can come out with their first regular season title to add to their tournament championship from 2012.
Feb 5, 2017; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Dwayne Bacon (4) after a three point shot against the Clemson Tigers at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
No. 1 – Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac are playing like one of the game’s top duos
There is a decent argument to be made that no team in the country – right now – has a better one-two punch when it comes to talent than the sophomore/freshman sensations taking the court for Florida State. This season, it has been a given that at least one is going to have a good game…but when both bring their best, almost no one can stop them.
Bacon is now just 42 points away from scoring 1,000 for his career – which would make him the fastest in school history to reach that level. Every game this season, the sophomore from Lakeland and several prep schools has scored double digits – including tying his career high with 29 in Sunday’s win over Clemson.
Isaac, who was one of the top 10 recruits nationally last year, has seemed to grow into a dependable player that grew up quickly against quality competition. He came up clutch in the second half against Miami to help end the Seminoles’ losing streak and made a name for himself during the team’s six game streak against ranked foes – including 23 points against Notre Dame.
Feb 5, 2017; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guards CJ Walker (2) and Trent Forrest (3) celebrate after the win against the Clemson Tigers at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
No. 2 – The Seminoles Can go Deep Into Their Bench to Stay Fresh
Everyone knows about the good things that Bacon and Isaac are doing on the court – going along with other starters and constant contributors like Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Michael Ojo. However, FSU basketball has something this season that has avoided them in years past – one of the deepest benches in the country that contributes and keeps everyone fresher.
Names like Phil Cofer, C.J. Walker, Trent Forest, P.J. Savoy, Jarquez Smith have given Leonard Hamilton’s team plenty of quality minutes to spell the starters and contribute – coming up with 57 points in the blowout win over the Tigers. Another name that people don’t talk about a lot would be backup center Christ Koumadje. The 7’4″ sophomore spells Ojo and keeps a big man in the middle.
Feb 5, 2017; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Terance Mann (14) dunks the ball during the first half against the Clemson Tigers at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
No. 3 – FSU Basketball has a much easier road left than the Tar Heels
After Sunday’s action, North Carolina sits in the lead position of the conference standings with a 9-2 record – one game ahead of the Seminoles thanks to their 13 point victory over Florida State back on January 14th (FSU’s only loss during the six game streak against ranked opponents.
Each team has seven games left in the regular season, all of which will come against opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Florida State will be on the road for four of those games (Notre Dame, Duke, Pittsburgh and Clemson) while hosting N.C. State, Boston College and the finale against Miami.
North Carolina, meanwhile, has home and home meetings left with both a ranked Duke team and a ranked Virginia squad – to go along with a home contest against Louisville and road games at N.C. State and Pittsburgh. That means the Tar Heels will finish their season with six of their final eight games against ranked teams.
Mathematically, the Seminoles need North Carolina to lose two more than FSU does over the final stretch. If the Seminoles can split their ranked contests against Notre Dame and Duke while winning the rest to go 6-1, they would need UNC to go 4-3…something that is very doable with that remaining schedule.