Excuse me if I seem like a kid at Christmas.
For the first time in the school's history, the Florida State Seminole basketball team did the unthinkable. They beat both Duke and North Carolina twice in the same season.
If it were on the gridiron or maybe baseball, this would not be as big of a deal as it sounds, but for Leonard Hamilton and his Seminoles, it means everything when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. With the No. 3 seed locked up and a date with St. Bonaventure in Nashville on Friday night, the Seminoles (24-9) can exhale for a few short moments before preparing for the first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
In terms of the seed and draw the Seminoles received, it looks like this could be a very good showing. A potential second-round matchup with either Cincinnati or Texas could be looming. The draw is not as fierce as others, with Ohio State a potential opponent should FSU make it to the Sweet 16.
Florida State has played an up-and-down game for parts of the season, challenging for the ACC regular season title, but having to play its best basketball in the conference tournament to take its first ACC post season title.
With the tournament's start for this team four days away, here is what the experts are saying about the Seminoles and their chances of cutting down the nets in The Big Easy.
For your printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament, click here
According to a report from orlandosentinel.com, two well-known (I am not sure how highly respected they are) analysts from ESPN, Digger Phelps and Dick Vitale (one of my favorites), have stated they though FSU was a Final Four-caliber team.
You do not beat North Carolina twice and Duke twice in a season and not have the chutzpah to either stay with both those powerhouses or be able to do it again.
FSU’s only trip to the national semifinals occurred in 1972. The Seminoles lost to UCLA in the championship game.
According to an article on CBSsports.com, the well-balanced team Florida State puts on the court is the reason they will advance in the first round and can make some noise in the tournament.
The Seminoles are known for their defense, but proved how potent they can be offensively in Sunday's ACC championship game. Florida State shot 58.9 percent, the first time this season UNC allowed an opponent to surpass 50 percent. FSU's 11 3-pointers tied for fourth-most in ACC tournament history.
It may be the greatest quote of the year about this team.
With all the talent in the world, FSU can go as far as the talent on this team can take it. That said, "The Chopping Block" is a blog and part of the orlandosentinel.com that talks about FSU basketball.
The direct source of the quote is the blogger for the site. This team has looked good at times against the UNCs and Dukes of the basketball world, then has fallen flat on its face against lesser talent (Miami).
If everyone can play to their capabilities, then they can get to the Elite Eight. If not, the first three rounds are as far as they go.
Someone who thinks the Seminoles are the team to beat in the East.
Andy Glockner of CNNSI.com said if the 'Noles get that kind of offense—or anything remotely close to it—you could see the Seminoles in NOLA.
That will be key, but the 'Noles proved they could be just as effective inside as they are outside in the ACC Tournament. They will have to use that same kind of combination if they get further than the Sweet 16.
Florida State has big bodies on the inside that have to put the ball in the basket. It also has to rely on knocking down the open jump shot and outside shots.
If it can do that like it did against the likes of North Carolina and Duke, then it can get to the Elite Eight.
Guard Michael Snaer (14 ppg) and forward Bernard James (10 ppg, 8 rpg) will be key to the success of this team.
The columnist for the Florida Times-Union said FSU is in a good situation right now.
Because of the size inside, the Seminoles have a favorable matchup against St. Bonaventure. The Seminoles have long, athletic bodies inside to defend St. Bonaventure's top scorer, Andrew Nicholson, who is only 6'9".
Look for him to be guarded by Bernard James and Xavier Gibson.
Joe Lunardi of espn.com has said the team in impressive, and the work of head coach Leonard Hamilton is the reason the Seminoles were able to beat Duke and North Carolina.
He also figures the Seminoles to be at least a Sweet 16 team when they have to face Ohio State.
After that, Lunardi said he has the Buckeyes advancing past this contest.