After a couple of road wins, the ‘Noles return home Saturday with a chance to pick up win against a struggling Tigers squad
1. The Brad Brownell Experience took a hit last year. They won a program record 14 ACC games, beat eventual No. 11 seed NC State three times by double digits, won an ACC Tourney game, and still got left out of the Dance. Why? A) The ACC isn’t the storied basketball conference it once was (FSU once got in to the Tourney with a 6-10 conference record under Steve Robinson), and 2) They didn’t play anybody, and had a couple of bad losses. Fast forward a year and Florida State is 5-1 in conference play, yet isn’t anywhere near the bubble. Why? See above. In short, the ‘Noles need to win at least 15 in conference play, and that’s so far away we can’t even begin to map it out. With only four slips from now until the end of March, losing at home to a reeling Clemson doesn’t seem like something that can happen if this team wants to pull a miracle appearance in the big bracket.
2. Clemson righted their wrong from last year by scheduling tough in the ooc (even though, as discussed on the pod, the smarter way to game the NET is to schedule cupcakes and win by 25+) and they beat Bama, TCU, and Boise State, promptly elevating themselves to the region of a 3-seed. Then the wheels came off. They’ve lost four of five, with their single win coming at home vs Boston College. They have some role players who are banged up, but that’s no excuse to be this bad.
3. Speaking of bad. The last time Clemson won the ACCT – well, okay, that’s never actually happened in their 70 seasons. They did finish first in the regular season one time, thirty-four years ago, behind Dale Davis, before falling on a classic buzzer beater to UConn. Hey, maybe this is their year? In 14 years at Clemson, Brownell has won three tourney games, and one of those was a play-in.
4. Is basketball fun? I don’t know. It seems fun. Florida State has won five straight, after dragging us through a stretch of 45 games in which they never won more than two in a row. The last time they won more than five in a row was six in January 2022, in which they took the ACC lead eight games into conference play, only to have the program completely fall apart. Not sure how long this will last, but hey, it’s fun. I think.
5. If there was any doubt as to the key player on this roster, Jamir Watkins put that to rest against Miami. In a game that clearly wasn’t his best of the year (he was 0-4 from deep), he played a couple of five minute stretches in which he dominated like no FSU player has been able to do since perhaps Scottie Barnes. In the midst of Miami’s final run, Watkins just stepped up and let everyone know who was walking off the floor with the dub. He’s now 5th in the conference in usage rate, and provides a nucleus around which the offense has been flowing.