Late last week, while the FSU women’s soccer team was winning an overtime thriller, the ACC released the full men’s basketball schedule. You can find David’s original article on the Seminoles’ slate, as well as early Vegas odds for finishing with the best ACC regular season record, here. But here it is:
Though the season is still nearly two months from tipping off, fall practice is just around the corner. Coming off three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, the ‘Noles have yet another roster full of length and athleticism. But having to replace six of their top eight players from last year’s Sweet 16 team, does FSU have a schedule that will be conducive to making the Dance?
At first blush it would appear like the answer is “yes.”
Out of Conference
For the first time in history, ACC teams will be playing 20 league games. This means the OOC portion of the schedule has been reduced to just 11 games, but it doesn’t reduce the importance of these games.
This year’s OOC lineup can be broken into two distinct types of games: a) opportunities to impress humans; 2) opportunities to impress computers.
Let’s start with the second type. The opportunities to impress the computers virtually all come at home. It’s the second year under the new NET Ranking system and if there is anything we learned from the first year it’s that the cap on margin of victory (MOV) isn’t really a cap. Yes, the actual MOV component is indeed capped at 10 points, but the efficiency margin component is not capped and efficiency in basketball is often times a proxy for the MOV. Score 97 points in a 71 possession game, while holding your opponent to 58 points...well your efficiency looks pretty doggone good to the computers.
In the OOC, FSU faces the following teams at home: Western Carolina, Chattanooga, St. Francis, Chicago State, North Florida, and North Alabama. That’s a whole lot of directions and city-states. Simply put, the Seminoles should not only go 6-0 in those games, they have an opportunity to put up some seriously good efficiency numbers—provided they don’t come out with a lack of focus.
Now, back to the games FSU could actually lose. The Seminoles face UF, Indiana, Tennessee, USF, and either Purdue or VCU, all of which are played on the road or at neutral sites. This is fantastic scheduling. Kudos to Stan Jones and the rest of the staff responsible for that. Each of those games represent winnable opportunities to impress the committee, but a loss away from home in any of them (with the possible exception of USF—though they might be better than expected) won’t significantly damage a resume. And on top of all that, those teams play a variety of styles and systems that will better prepare FSU for the unique challenge that is March Madness.
The ‘Noles can’t go out and drop every single one of those games if they want to be taken seriously, but that also doesn’t appear like a realistic outcome. My best guess at this time would be 3-2.
With the move to 20 games, there are now six home-and-home matchups and one of them—Pittsburgh—actually tips off the season. To be honest, this might be my least favorite game on the whole schedule. Pitt wasn’t great last year, but they played well in spurts and return mostly everyone. Given that FSU is breaking in so many new guys, a road game in the Zoo isn’t an ideal way work out the kinks.
But win or lose against the Panthers, the overall conference slate sets up about as well as one could hope in a league like the ACC.
FSU faces Duke and UNC just once each, with the Tar Heels making the trek down to Tallahassee. And while FSU plays Duke just two days after a home game against Miami, Duke will also be facing their arch rival roughly 36-48 hours before welcoming a deep Seminole squad.
Speaking of Miami, neither the Hurricanes nor Clemson Tigers (FSU’s two permanent home-and-home partners) appear to be more than an NIT team.
Then there’s the bottom of the league. Wake Forest and Virginia Tech might both miss out on post-season play entirely, making them two of the easier road-only opponents FSU could have drawn.
And while the ‘Noles did draw two matchups with defending champ Virginia, the Cavaliers lost massive amounts of talent to the NBA. That’s not to say they won’t be formidable again; Tony Bennett has a well stocked pipeline of talent that fits his system. But UVA is probably more like a 4 or 5 seed this year instead of a 1 seed...and let’s not forget that FSU is the last team to beat the ‘Hoos.
All in all, the only ACC games that jump out as “yeah, that’s most likely a loss” are @Louisville (possibly the best team in the league), @UVA, @Duke, and @Notre Dame. And even those four wouldn’t shock me if FSU found a way to go 1-3. Over a 20 game slate, things could have been much worse.
What’s your thoughts? Is 10 wins in ACC play the floor for the Seminoles? Is 14 or even 15 wins possible? Will FSU make it six straight over the Florida Gators, who are being discussed as a potential Final Four team?