Somewhat under the radar, the Florida State Seminoles have emerged as the ACC’s third best team. With an 8-3 conference record, the Seminoles are in solid position to get an NCAA tournament berth. The Seminoles own a win over Duke, giving the Devils their only conference loss, and are coming off a week with two wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia. The win over the Cavaliers was costly though; leading scorer and best defender Chris Singleton fractured his ankle in the first half. Singleton underwent successful surgery on Monday, but his availability going forward remains unknown.
Singleton’s injury is the latest in a line of them for Leonard Hamilton’s squad. Five other players have missed significant amounts of time this season either through injury or ineligibility. The timing of this latest injury will present an interesting case for the selection committee of the NCAA tournament. With five games left in the regular season, the Seminoles to this point have seemingly done enough to earn an invitation to the tournament. If the team loses these last five games and performs poorly without Singleton, would the Seminoles still be considered? While you can never assume victories, the Seminoles even without their star player should get at least three wins out of their remaining regular season games. The one game that Florida State figures to be the underdog is a home game against North Carolina, which beat the ‘Noles by 20 in Chapel Hill just over a week ago. Those three wins would give the Seminoles eleven conference wins, which seemingly should be enough to get in. Another question would have to do with seeding. If the Seminoles play poorly and earn a bid, where should they be seeded? What criteria would the committee use, and will they consider the complete body of work, or will they lower the team’s seeding based on poor play late without their best player? Time will tell concerning all of those questions, but the Seminoles will have to do what they can without Singleton, and hope for a speedy recovery-if not in time for the ACC tournament, then by the NCAA tournament should they get in.
Looking back over the last week, the Blue Devils solidified their hold on the top spot in the conference with a come from behind win over the Tar Heels last Wednesday night. Duke was led by Nolan Smith, who is beginning to get more notice as a player of the year candidate as he is leading the ACC in both scoring and assists. The Blue Devils completed their week by going down to Miami and handling the Hurricanes. The margin of error for the Maryland Terrapins continues to shrink after Saturday’s loss to Boston College. The Terps have zero wins against teams in the RPI top 50, and have only one more chance for one with a road game against North Carolina later this month. The Terps will need to get as many wins as they can between now and selection Sunday to raise their profile for an at-large bid. Of course, the same can be said for the likes of the Clemson Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies and the Eagles as well. With the general consensus currently stating that the ACC will get five bids, two teams in the muddled middle of the conference standings-namely Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Maryland-will have to start winning some games and generating some kind of consistent play through the next three weeks. They will also have to guard against losses to the teams down at the bottom of the standings-as all four play at least two games against some combination of Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia and Georgia Tech.