Middle Tennessee-Florida St. Preview
(AP) - Florida State has had a long layoff after a disappointing finish in the ACC tournament.
The fifth-seeded Seminoles haven't played in 15 days since losing to Miami in the quarterfinals. Now they'll look to avoid falling to 12th-seed Middle Tennessee on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at College Station, Texas.
''I think, generally, having as long of a period of time where you haven't played a game is difficult for us,'' coach Sue Semrau said. ''For us, we're fortunate that we have a little bit of a break over spring break, and so we could give them some time off without having to go to classes and let them get away and clear their minds a little bit.
''So, when they came back, they were really mentally rested, and we have had really good preparation leading up to this time.''
Middle Tennessee (24-8) is playing in the NCAAs for the 11th time in 13 seasons after winning the Conference USA tournament. The Lady Raiders have won 15 of 16 entering the NCAAs.
Senior guard Brea Edwards, who leads the team with 17.9 points per game, said the 17th-ranked Seminoles (23-7) are ''big in the post and we expect them to rebound. But I think that with our scout and the way practices have been going, our team, Middle Tennessee, we know what we need to do, and I think we're going to go out there and do it.''
Florida State's leading scorers, sophomore Shakayla Thomas (17.1) and senior Adut Bulgak (12.7), are forwards.
The Seminoles reached the Elite Eight last season and had hopes of hosting the first two rounds this year. They had an 11-game win streak in mid-February and were ranked 10th but dropped three of their last five to begin the tournament on the road in the Dallas Region.
''We would have loved to play (home) but we've been a historically good road team,'' Semrau said. ''It's going to be tough but a great environment.''
Florida State guard Leticia Romero, third on the team with 11.2 points per game, has played all around the world, including multiple stints with the Spanish Women's National Team.
The junior from Las Palmas, who attended junior college in Texas, said ''it's really good to be close to somewhere that's familiar, where people know you, but at the same time it's a business trip and it wouldn't matter where we were, but it's really fun to be back in Texas.''
The winner faces host Texas A&M or Missouri State in the second round Monday.