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FSU basketball fans are officially out of excuses

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon, the Florida State men’s basketball won its 11th straight game to improve to 15-1, tied for the best start in program history. The No. 12 Seminoles topped a ranked Virginia Tech team in front of 7,000-9,200 fans, depending on which source you believe; and while FSU’s ranking will likely improve, as the ‘Noles lead the ACC at 3-0, the attendance must do so as well.

Because, simply put, there is absolutely no reason for it not to. The ‘Noles have another home game on Tuesday. Moreover, it’s another conference game. But is the opponent any good? Try No. 8 in the country. But are they a power brand? Uh, it’s Duke. But what about recent history between the two programs? Last season, Blue Devil Grayson Allen committed one of his numerous infamous trips against FSU’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Okay. But can Florida State hang with Duke? Again, the events of the last week or so would strongly suggest that the Seminoles can do more than just that. On New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Hokie squad that the ‘Noles just whooped by 15 handled the Devils by 14. Yes, applying the transitive property to sports is often a fool’s errand, but still, that Duke-VT result is far from ancient history.

Of course, FSU has carved out a reputation for playing the Blue Devils tough— even if many of those contests have been difficult to watch, because of the slow, grinding, turnover-prone approach the Seminoles had to play in the past, due to a less-than-polished roster. But this Florida State squad doesn’t just get results, it entertains along the way. They play a fun, up-tempo game, and while Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac certainly draw the spotlight, the ‘Nole offense does not head to the bench when they do, as this squad is exceptionally deep.

On some occasions, however, FSU games, even against high-quality opponents or rivals, have seen scant attendance related to a number of mitigating circumstances. Mid-week tips at 9 pm are tough for anyone who has to awake early for work— but this one gets going at 8. And sometimes, the time of year can matter even more than the time of the game. That is, fans can’t show up if they’re not in town. And many people travel around the holidays, when the ‘Noles often play UF. Those same fans have also tended to opt out if they’ve already made plans, like when the other year’s home game against Miami fell on Super Bowl Sunday.

A group that departs in even more dramatic numbers at the beginning of the season are Florida State students, of course, as they head home over winter break in droves. This is natural, as kids are ready to visit family and friends, and the dorms are closed. But guess what? Spring semester classes start on Monday. What’s more is that it’s not like students are here, but dealing with midterms or finals. The first week of classes is a relative cakewalk, during which students typically engage in the less-than-rigorous practice of collecting syllabi.

Furthermore, the college football season will have concluded on Monday, and the NFL playoffs are on a break until the following weekend. So it’s not like there’s some can’t-miss sports programming against which this game is competing.

But let’s look beyond Tuesday night’s massive matchup against Duke. Even if the ‘Noles should falter, FSU fans still don’t really have a good reason not to continue to attend games. The showdown with the Blue Devils will be the third of six-straight games against ranked teams for Florida State. Going into that stretch, 1-5 was far from implausible. 2-4 was not only realistic, but probably rather acceptable.

So far, the Seminoles are 2-0 in that stretch, with impressive wins at Virginia and the aforementioned victory over VT. Thanksgiving may be well in the rearview mirror, but, at this point, any more wins could be seen as gravy— but also entirely winnable. Next Saturday’s road game against North Carolina will see the ‘Noles take on a UNC squad presently ranked below Florida State, and then it’s two more home games, against current No. 23 Notre Dame and No. 9 Louisville.

As was previously mentioned, the basement of 2-4 in this brutal six-game stretch has been met. What remains to be seen now is just how high the ceiling can be raised. But ceilings are limited by roofs— and it will also be interesting to see just how high FSU fans can raise the one at the Tucker Center.