Written by Matt Josephs for Covers Expert Steve Merril.
The month of February is a time for bubble teams to start separating themselves from the pack. This year’s bubble includes Florida State, who has been one of the surprise teams in the nation with a current 19-6 straight-up (SU) record and a 6-4 ACC mark.
Still, the question remains: Are the Noles for real?
Any discussion of FSU begins with senior guard Toney Douglas, who single-handedly leads this team. The 6-foot-2 guard has 13 straight double-digit games averaging 20.3 points this season which ranks 24th overall in the country. Douglas also averages two steals per game and plays point guard, so chances are the ball is in his hands when it matters. Douglas is the only double-digit scorer on this team.
Next up are Uche Echefu and Chris Singleton, who each average slightly over eight points per game. The team is also boosted by late season addition Derwin Kitchen, a sophomore guard providing a spark. Kitchen averages only 6.9 points per game but he has also played some point guard when needed.
Defensively, Solomon Alabi is 44th in the country in blocks averaging approximately two per game. The 7-foot-1 center is able to bolster the Seminoles’ interior defense when he stays out of foul trouble, but he is facing a possible suspension for Wednesday’s game against Miami.
The Noles are 170th in points per game offensively (67.8 ppg) and 212th in field-goal percentage at 42.6.
On the positive side, they are stingy on defense at 10th in field-goal percentage defense and blocked shots per game. Overall, the Seminoles allow just 63.7 points and only 38.4 percent on field goals versus opponents that average 72.7 ppg and 44.7 percent.
Florida State is currently 20th in the RPI with their strength of schedule ranking at 26th in the nation. The Seminoles have also been profitable from a betting perspective this season with a 12-6-1 ATS record, including 8-2-1 ATS on the road.
FSU’s tournament resume is littered with quality wins featuring an 80-77 win versus California, a 57-55 victory over the Florida Gators and a 65-61 win at Clemson as a 9-point road underdog. Close calls include 8-point losses versus both Duke and Pittsburgh, along with a 3-point buzzer beater loss at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels.
If the NCAA tournament started today, Florida State would be in the Big Dance thanks to the team’s strong defensive play. However, the offense is still a major concern and their magic carpet ride will likely end with a first round tournament loss. The numbers just aren’t conducive to a long run.
It would still have to be considered a successful season for Seminole fans, but overall this basketball team is not for real.
Matt Josephs is a producer for ESPN Radio in Richmond Virginia. He loves the home underdog and the Temple Owls. View his articles, picks, and posts on the Covers message boards under the screen name “blakejeff”.