Florida State bubble watch

BY foxsports • February 9, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State may be one of the toughest teams to figure out in college basketball.

One night, the Seminoles fall at hapless Auburn, which is just 8-15. Another night, they turn in a stunning upset of No. 1 Duke.

One night, they put away Boston College by 16 points. Another night, they fall by 18 at Clemson.

"We remain a work in progress," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

The given is that Florida State plays some serious basketball on the defensive end. The Seminoles are allowing opponents to make only 36.4 percent of their shots, second-best in the nation. Florida State also is second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in blocked shots per game and steals per game.

But there have also been struggles scoring baskets. Florida State (16-7, 6-3 ACC) has struggled on the road, scoring only 19 first-half points in a loss at Virginia Tech and 18 first-half points in a loss at Clemson.

Florida State is looking to earn its third straight NCAA tournament appearance. And with seven regular-season games remaining, there are plenty of chances for the Seminoles to build on their win total.

The Seminoles, however, can't afford too many losses. Five of their last seven games are against the bottom of the ACC -- Wake Forest, N.C. State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia. Each team already has at least six ACC losses.

Florida State will be expected to win those games, even though three of the next four are on the road, beginning with the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta on Thursday.

The Seminoles are 1-4 on the road since New Year's Day, so nothing is given even if the games are against weaker competition.

But if Florida State finishes at least 5-2 down the stretch, the Seminoles would go into the ACC tournament 21-9. At that win total, it's hard to imagine Florida State being relegated to the NIT.

Florida State is in third place in the ACC behind Duke and North Carolina.

"This is going to be a very tight race," Hamilton said.

Where the Seminoles might get dinged by the NCAA Selection Committee seeding. Their biggest nonconference win was over Baylor in Hawaii on Christmas Day.

And Florida State has a reputation for struggling in the postseason. The Seminoles had a pair of first-round exits from the NCAA tournament (losses to Wisconsin in 2009 and Gonzaga in 2010).

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