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Around the ACC: Where does FSU stand after UNC win?

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Taking stock of Florida State’s positioning in the ACC and nationally after back-to-back wins

CREDIT: Atlantic Coast Conference

A 2-0 week in ACC conference play is always a success for Florida State basketball. Especially considering it was a return after a two-week break due to COVID-19 protocols.

In the first game back from the layoff, we saw a dominating blowout win over a respectable N.C. State team that will have a good shot at making the tournament this year. Then, on Saturday, a signature 82-75 win over North Carolina where the Noles shined down the stretch on both sides of the court.

Better yet, much of that was without one of their best players in freshman Scottie Barnes, who seems to have a relatively bright injury outlook moving forward and could return soon.

Their standing within the ACC, possible poll ranking in tomorrow’s release, and most importantly, their NCAA Tournament outlook, are sure to receive a well-earned boost.

But just how much did Florida State’s stock improve after a successful week?

ACC Standings: Fourth Place (Tied)

FSU showed this past week that their lull in late December was just that- a slight bump in the road for a team that often operates at peak efficiency in recent seasons. After Saturday’s conference action, they moved into a tie with #19 Duke and Pittsburgh for fourth place in the ACC.

Not only were the Noles way down to ninth last week, they were tied for sixth in the ACC just on Saturday morning. FSU was picked to finish third in the ACC during the preseason.

Suddenly just in the span of four days, Florida State has sprung into action back in place as a contender for another ACC title. Now they can look to take another serious step towards a third top-four bye in the conference tournament over the past four seasons (even though the 2020 edition was never played).

Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles will quickly have more opportunities to move up the ladder of the standings this week starting on Monday night. FSU takes on #16 Louisville, who is tied for second but only a half-game above FSU at 4-1 in the ACC and 9-2 overall.

They’ll also face #12 Clemson on Saturday at home with revenge on the mind.

Potential Ranking in the Polls

After starting the season ranked 21st in the AP polls, FSU remained ranked throughout December. This past week, FSU slipped from 25th to unranked despite not playing since Dec. 29.

Even if Florida State does not re-enter the rankings this week, they will surely be one of the highest remaining teams receiving a vote. Before their wins over N.C. State and UNC, the Noles were fourth in both the AP and Coaches polls other receiving votes category.

As far as teams ahead of FSU, it wasn’t an ideal week for results around the country. #23 Minnesota blitzed #7 Michigan 75-57. Alabama, the first team out of the AP, blew out Kentucky and Arkansas. UCLA took down both Washington and Washington State this week to keep pace as well.

Meanwhile, UConn and Saint Louis, slightly ahead of the Noles in both the AP and Coaches Polls, did not play this week. Florida State may stay out of the polls for another week simply because there weren’t many teams ahead of them that suffered a loss.

If not tomorrow’s polls, FSU will surely re-enter the rankings the week after if they can secure a 1-1 or 2-0 record versus #16 Louisville and #12 Clemson.

NCAA Tournament Projections

March Madness forecasts are looking brighter and brighter for the Noles, and many have not even updated since their impressive win over blue-blood UNC.

ESPN has FSU currently at an 8-seed, with their arrow pointing up. They’ll have a great chance to separate themselves from the pack this week, with Louisville and Clemson both projected as 4-seeds at this time.

Remaining Schedule: 13 games left in regular season

While Florida State can celebrate a 2-0 week, the Noles are sure to be tested plenty the rest of the way in the ACC. Even in a somewhat down year for the ACC, the basketball powerhouse conference offers 5 more games versus ranked opponents still remaining on FSU’s schedule.

Perhaps their biggest game of the regular season still on the schedule will be another Monday night primetime ESPN showdown at #18 Virginia on Feb. 15. After dropping two games earlier in non-conference play, the Cavaliers have turned it on as of late with 5 straight wins including an 85-50 walloping of Clemson on Saturday.

FSU still faces home-and-home tests from rival Miami, Boston College, and #20 Virginia Tech. They’ll also host Wake Forest on Feb. 13 and travel to Atlanta for a rematch with Georgia Tech on Jan. 30.

Wrapping up the regular season, North Carolina will get another shot at Florida State in Chapel Hill in late February. Notre Dame hosts FSU on Mar. 6 in the regular season finale for both squads.

After suffering three early ACC postponements, hopefully, the Noles can stay on pace with the rest of college basketball and play most if not all of their remaining schedule.

But if they are forced to cancel more games because of the pandemic sometime in the next two months, they may benefit from the cachet they have earned nationally after their recent run of success.

Long gone are the mid-2000’s days when FSU needed every game possible to try and earn more clout with the selection committee to get in the NCAA Tournament field. Florida State has nearly shown enough already in 2020-21 to firmly place themselves in the tournament if unforeseen circumstances (like a string of cancellations) happen to arise.