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Florida State Fall Notebook

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This is an important time for two of Florida State’s most successful programs.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Clemson at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Women’s Basketball

The Florida State women’s basketball team opens up their schedule on Friday against North Florida. The #18 Seminoles should have no problem in this game. However, the Noles are in for some significant excitement this week as Florida State welcomes its best recruiting class in school history.

The early signing period for basketball began yesterday and will continue until November 15th. Seminoles will welcome a class of five or six players all of whom are ranked in the ESPN 100. ESPN has FSU’s 2018 class ranked 3rd in the nation although this is subject to change (more on that later). The class includes 5* 5’10 guard Izabela Nicoletti (ranked 6th overall), 5* 5’10 guard Kourtney Weber (#35), 5* 6’3 forward Valencia Myers (#40), 4* 6’2 wing Morgan Jones (#64), and 5’11 4* guard Amaya Brown (#82). Nicoletti, Myers and Brown all signed their letters of intent yesterday and Jones signed today. Weber is expected to sign soon.

FSU will keep it going in 2019 as the Noles already have commitments from wing Sammie Puisis (#13) and center River Baldwin (#32).

If FSU ends up with “just” this five players in the class it will be the best class in school history and will be a lock for top five nationally. However, the class could be even better. The Seminoles are still in the running for 5* F/C Olivia Nelson-Ododa (#5). Nelson-Ododa is down to five schools (South Carolina, UConn, Duke, Georgia and FSU). She has stated that she plans to sign with a school during the early signing period.

Nelson-Ododa is ranked #5 overall but she is really the best player in this class. She was ranked #1 but was dropped due to a knee injury. She is a program changer and her signing would catapult FSU into the very elite echelon of the sport.

Even without Nelson-Ododa, FSU has prepared itself very well for the future with this class. There were questions about the direction of the program after the departure of Ivey Slaughter, Leticia Romero, Brittany Brown, and Kai James. They were arguably the most impactful group of seniors in program history. With a class this strong the Noles have served notice that no one should expect any kind of major decline in the quality of basketball played in Tallahassee.

This class is very impressive but there are differing opinions about just where it should be ranked nationally. As noted before, ESPN has the class ranked third nationally. Baylor is ranked #1. This is an easy choice. The Bears have commitments from five players ranked in the top 30 - four in the top 20 - so they will be impossible for anyone to catch. Texas is ranked #2 by ESPN. They have #2, #12 and #56 ranked players as well as a 3* recruit in their class. This is a very good class but I wouldn’t take it over FSU’s class.

ESPN doesn’t reveal the methodology they use to rank the classes. However, it seems that they just look at the classes and decide which ones they like the best and then rank them accordingly. Therefore, it appears that the rankings are entirely subjective.

There has to be a good amount of subjectivity in these rankings because they are based on player rankings and those rankings are entirely subjective. However, there is a way to inject at least a measure of objectivity into the rankings. 247Sports has attempted to do this by devising an independent formula which assigns players points based on their ranking and then adding all of the points for each class and ranking the classes based on the point total. This process makes the ranking process at least a bit more objective.

If this procedure is used to rank the 2018 women’s class using ESPN’s own player rankings Florida State would move up to #2 in the nation. Florida State’s class (without Nelson-Ododa) would have 68.8 points. Baylor’s class would have 70.52 points. Texas would have 64.94 points. Maryland would have 64.71 points and Tennessee would have 67.99 points.

None of this means that ESPN is necessarily wrong to have Texas ahead of FSU. It just means that FSU’s class may be even better than it first appears. There is more evidence that this is true when you consider that both Amaya Brown and Kourtney Weber are coming off injuries. Before the injuries Brown was ranked by ESPN in the top 30 and Weber was in the top 20. Both players are now healthy so FSU’s class could end up looking even better in the final analysis.

Soccer

#27 Florida State (11-6-1) starts its NCAA Tournament run tomorrow at the Seminole Soccer Complex against Ole Miss (10-6-3).

The Noles earned a #4 seed. FSU was 16th on the committee’s S-Curve thereby receiving the last seed awarded by the committee. They earned the seed even though they have more losses than six other unseeded teams just in their quarter of the bracket. This includes conference mate Wake Forest who is in FSU’s quarter but is unseeded. #15 Georgetown, #22 Rutgers, and #24 Wake Forest (who beat FSU this season) are all ranked ahead of the Noles in the polls and are all in FSU’s quarter of the draw but failed to get a seed while FSU was awarded the #4 seed.

It seems that the committee put more stock in RPI rankings where FSU was #16. Rutgers may have an argument as the Scarlet Knights are #11 in the RPI but the Hoyas are #22 and the Deacs are #42.

It also shows that the committee watches games because FSU is loaded with talent and some of their losses - like the Wake Forest game - were due to missing players because of national team commitments.

The Seminoles were preseason favorites to win the ACC but finished seventh in the conference. This was a bit of a disappointing season but it was not due to a lack of talent. FSU is among the most talented teams in the nation but the Noles are very young. In FSU’s last game (Oct. 29th vs UNC) the Seminoles started five true freshmen (Adrienne Richardson, Anna Patten, Gloriana Villalobos, Gabby Carle, and Emily Madril), one redshirt freshman (Clara Robbins), one sophomore (Deyna Castellanos), two juniors (Natalia Kuikka and Kaycie Tillman) and two seniors (Cassie Miller and Emma Koivisto). It’s tough to beat top five teams with that kind of youth.

This team is really a year away. Therefore, getting past the second round would be a great accomplishment. If that happens the Sweet 16 opponent would be #1 Stanford. Beating the Cardinal in Palo Alto seems like too much to ask.

However, FSU will have had almost two weeks to recharge before taking on the Rebels tomorrow. They also have the home field advantage. Combining all of that with a talent edge will make the Noles the favorites tomorrow. The game will kick off at 7pm on ACC Network Extra. If FSU wins they will travel to California to meet the winner of the Arizona - TCU game.