TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State men’s basketball team is ranked No. 12 in this week’s Associated Press poll, its highest in-season ranking in nearly 25 years. The last time the Seminoles were ranked AP Top 12 this late into the season was during the 1992-93 campaign.
For perspective, Florida State fifth-year senior Michael Ojo, who was born on Jan. 5, 1993, was just a few weeks old when the Seminoles advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament that season.
Florida State is 14-1 for only the second time in school history – the Seminoles started out 16-1 during the 1988-89 season — and are 2-0 in ACC play for only the second time since joining the league in 1991.
The Seminoles became the first ACC team to reach the 14-win plateau and sit on top of the standings. They have won two conference games in the month of December for the first time in school history and have already defeated two nationally-ranked teams – No. 11 Virginia (60-58 on Dec. 31) and No. 21 Florida (83-77 on Dec. 11).
While he is very happy with the way his team is playing so far this season, head coach Leonard Hamilton knows that this team is some distance from accomplishing its goals.
“We can’t start taking any bows because no teams have ever been selected to play in the NCAA Tournament with 14 wins,” said Hamilton, the eighth-winningest coach in ACC history. “We have so many games to play against so many great teams and there are no nights off in this conference. The ACC is the best league in the history of college basketball and were are just getting started with our league schedule.”
Not only is Hamilton referring to the remainder of the Seminoles’ 18-game ACC schedule, but specifically to the gauntlet of six games the Seminoles face in the next two weeks. The Seminoles began a run of six consecutive games against nationally ranked opponents with a win at No. 11 Virginia on Dec. 31 and will play in succession No. 21 Virginia Tech, No. 8 Duke, No. 14 North Carolina, No. 23 Notre Dame and No. 9 Louisville in the next two weeks.
And it doesn’t get any easier after Louisville (who has already defeated Kentucky this season).
Following a home game against the No. 9 Cardinals on Jan. 21, the Seminoles will travel to play at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets defeated No. 9 North Carolina last weekend. And then comes 2016 Final Four participant Syracuse. And then its 2013 ACC Champion Miami.
With their victory over No. 11 Virginia in Charlottesville on Saturday, the Seminoles won their 10th straight game and have not lost since their neutral site contest against Temple on Nov. 24. The school record for consecutive wins is 11 – a number the Seminoles will shoot for when they play host to No. 21 Virginia Tech on Saturday at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Hokies are 12-1 and earned their first ACC win of the season with an 89-75 victory over then-No. 5 Duke on Dec. 31. It was a game during which Virginia Tech led Duke by 20 points.
“I think we’re growing and maturing a little bit,” said Hamilton after the Seminoles defeated Wake Forest for their first ACC win of the season.
“It’s part of the process. We realize what we are doing positively, and you don’t allow yourself to get too excited when you are doing things well. But you don’t allow yourself to get down when things are not going quite as well as you’d like for them to go. That shows the team is growing up in their level of maturity, and developing confidence in each other. You like to see that growing this time of the year.”
The Seminoles will continue to be tested and will face each test as Hamilton always has – one game at a time. The only opponent he is thinking about now is Virginia Tech.
Hamilton will tell you the ACC, which has always been a great basketball conference, is not what it used to be.
Count the Seminoles as being a big part of that improvement.