5 Things Florida State Must Do to Be Dancing in March
The Seminoles began the season with lots of young talent surrounding the senior guard Michael Snaer. Expectations weren't too great, but as March Madness approaches, not many predicted Florida State to struggle for a tournament bid. Yet here they sit at 14-11 and 6-6 in the mediocre ACC. However, there is still hope—here's what needs to happen for the 'Noles to be dancing come March.
Avoid Losses to Virginia Tech and Wake Forest
Some of Florida State's 11 losses have been to really poor teams (University of South Alabama, Mercer), so they cannot afford to fall to Wake Forest or Virginia Tech, who are both 11-14 on the season. In their only matchup this season, the Seminoles travel to Virginia Tech who sit last in the ACC at 2-10. A loss to the Hokies surely would take them out of the running for an at-large bid.
Wake Forest is 4-9 in the ACC, with one of those wins coming against Florida State earlier in February. It was a crushing 71-46 road loss, and possibly the Seminoles' worst game of the season.
Snaer struggled that night, shooting 4-of-13, and when he is cold, the Seminoles scramble to find points. With the home crowd and the must-win nature of this game, hopefully Florida State has what it takes to overcome this below-average team.
Strong Showings Against Top of the ACC
The past few years it seems that Florida State has been taking down elite squads like North Carolina and Duke, but this season the 'Noles have failed to come out with a signature win, although they have come close with a 77-72 loss against UNC and a 74-68 loss to No. 3 Miami.
To finish out the season, Florida State plays three likely tournament teams in UNC, Virginia and North Carolina State (twice). The 'Noles should be underdogs in all of these games, but to really increase their March Madness chances they need come away with at least three victories.
The best opportunities for an impressive win would be to go on the road and beat North Carolina State or to beat Virginia, who is third in the ACC, when they come to Tallahassee.
Win ACC Tourney...or Come Close
This is an obvious one because whoever wins their conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the dance. If the Seminoles can accomplish what I suggested in the first two slides, then they might not necessarily need to win it all to make it in the tournament.
However, they do need to make it very far.
With their potential low seed, if Florida State gets to the finals that means they probably beat teams like Duke, Miami, Virginia, etc. Key wins like that during the final stretch of the season greatly increase their chances and the Seminoles have what it takes to do so.
Last year, Florida State shocked the country when they took down UNC and Duke, who were both in the top 10, to bring home the ACC championship. Snaer has the ability to put the team on his back in these clutch games, so even though Florida State hasn't been impressive this year, they are capable of turning it on for the ACC tournament.
Tournament Teams Locking Up Automatic Bids
This is crucial for Florida State, who is going to be battling it out for the last few tournament bids. They can't afford to have teams who would never in a million years get an at-large bid win their conference tournament. This just takes away one more spot that otherwise would have been there if a team who is certain to make the dance wins their championship.
The West Coast Conference and Missouri Valley Conference are most likely to hold such outcomes. This is because the power conferences usually receive five or more at-large bids so the odds of an outsider winning their tournament are much less than a conference with one or two teams getting bids.
If Florida State is going to get an at-large invitation to the big dance, then the top teams of their respective conferences need to win their tournaments.
Snaer Being Snaer
The Seminoles' success is predicated on the sensational Michael Snaer. The senior guard has hit five game-winning buzzer beaters in his college career, with three of them coming this season. Snaer has been Florida State's best player for the past few years, and if the 'Noles are going to make the tournament, he has to be playing at his best.
When Snaer has scored over 15 points this season, the 'Noles are 11-1 and when he fails to score 10, the team is only 1-6. He needs his role players to help him out, but if Snaer is having a cold shooting night, then it's extremely difficult for Florida State to come out with a win.
We know he can play under pressure in big games, but Snaer is going to have to play consistently great for the last six regular season games and the ACC tournament for a trip to the NCAA tournament.