Florida State is the team no one wants to face in March

Profile Picture: Nick Roush

February 28th, 2020

Once upon a time, Florida State was easily dismissed as an early out in the NCAA Tournament. The FSU brand was not strong enough to make a run. Head coach Leonard Hamilton has changed that over the last three years.

After a second-round exit in 2017, the Seminoles broke through to the Elite Eight in 2018, just their third appearance in school history. The No. 9 seed got hot at the right time and took down Xavier and Gonzaga before a loss to Michigan. FSU carried that momentum into the following March, but Gonzaga got vengeance in the Sweet 16.

The 2020 edition of Florida State might be the best of the bunch.  

Odds to win the ACC Tournament

TeamACC Tournament Odds
Florida State
North Carolina State

FSU has been unbeatable at home

Florida State enters the final week of the regular season atop the ACC standings. The Seminoles are unbeaten at home, have taken down Louisville twice, and manhandled Florida. A season-opening loss to Pittsburgh and a 14-point loss at Indiana are their only questionable blemishes.

The Seminoles defense has put the team above the rest of the pack in the ACC. The Seminoles' pressure rattles opponents, and their length forces turnovers — 16.8 per game, the 10th-most in Division I. They rank 16th in defensive efficiency and have limited opponents to 66.5 points per game.

College basketball is a game of runs. When Florida State’s run hits, it’s paralyzing. The turnovers create so much havoc, a comfortable lead can disappear in minutes. It happened to Louisville on Monday night.

At one point in the second half, the Seminoles trailed by double digits. Once Florida State flipped the switch, though, Louisville went eight minutes without a field goal. The 18-3 Florida State run propelled the Seminoles to a 15-point victory.

The Seminoles are set at guard

Guards win championships in the NCAA Tournament. It helps to have “the guy” leading the way, but the Seminoles have a few they rely on to be successful.

Point guard Trent Forrest is the least-proficient outside shooter (30%) but is still scoring 11.7 points per game and averages 4.2 assists per game. M.J. Walker and Devin Vassell provide more length on the wing (they're both taller than 6-foot-4), score in double figures, and consistently knock down outside shots.

Florida State cleans the glass like few others

If they aren’t hitting shots, the Seminoles attack the offensive glass. They rebound more than a third of their misses and rank in the top 15 nationally in offensive-rebounding rate. The Seminoles won't be the most efficient offensive team in the NCAA Tournament, but their aggressive play suffocates opponents.

The nation will witness one of the wildest NCAA Tournaments in March. Throughout the season many have shown flashes of greatness, but Florida State has consistently played aggressively. Florida State's ability to put its opponent on its heels for significant stretches makes the Seminoles a group no one wants to face this March. 

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