Florida State’s dreams of playing in the NCAA Tournament for a fifth time in six years may not be well, but at least they’re alive. Thanks to Sunday’s 71-66 victory at Pittsburgh, the Seminoles added a signature win to their resume’. If Sunday’s huge season-salvaging victory has taught us anything, it’s that the FSU seniors will be leading the final charge this season.
If the NCAA Tournament began today, Florida State would still likely be out of the field of 68, but the remaining schedule will provide an opportunity for the Seminoles to get there. FSU will host Georgia Tech on Sunday before a quick turnaround to face ACC bottom-feeder, Boston College, on Monday.
In Sunday’s 71-66 win over the Panthers, senior forward Okaro White led the way for Florida State finishing with 22 points which tied for a game-high. Senior guard Ian Miller also helped pace the Seminoles with 19 points and a team-high five assists. While sophomore Aaron Thomas added 14 points, it came on just 1-for-9 shooting from the field.
With still a very young team, Miller and White have something that the rest of Florida State’s sophomore-laden roster lacks: experience. Members of teams that went to the Sweet 16 and won the ACC, Miller and White have experience playing with their backs against the wall. They will need to lead this final stretch both vocally and with their play on the court.
While the next two contests appear to be ones that FSU could win with ease, the final game of the regular season pits the Seminoles against Syracuse on what will be Senior Day for both Miller and White. Though the Orange have stumbled of late, there is no question that Jim Boeheim’s team is among the nation’s elite.
Not looking ahead to that contest will be key and the task of keeping the young Seminoles focused will once again lie on the shoulders of the seniors. The short term goal for Florida State should be getting to that game unblemished.
Though FSU is currently on the outside looking in at the field of 68, the road to that field may be pretty clear. If the Seminoles can take care of business against Georgia Tech and Boston College, the final regular season contest against Syracuse may be a tournament play-in for Florida State.
Should FSU finish with 10 wins in conference and add a fourth signature victory to wins over Virginia Commonwealth, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, it will be very hard for the NCAA selection committee to say no to Leonard Hamilton’s team come March 16th. The task of getting Florida State back to the NCAA Tournament will need to be led by the only two players who have ever been there in the first place — Ian Miller and Okaro White.