March 8, 2016 - by
Noles Confident On Eve Of ACC Tournament

WASHINGTON – The Florida State men’s basketball team made its way to the nation’s capital on Monday afternoon, and the Seminoles are planning for a lengthy stay.

FSU begins ACC tournament play Tuesday against Boston College (2 p.m., ESPN2) here at the Verizon Center. The Seminoles hope that a win against the Eagles might spark a deep run that puts them back in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid.

“I packed heavy,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “One bag would not hold all of my suits, so I had to bring two bags of suits.”

If FSU beats BC, it will play No. 6 seed Virginia Tech on Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Beat the Hokies, and a date with third-seeded Miami awaits at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

Three wins in three days is a big ask for any team, but, given the circumstances, FSU’s road is fairly manageable.

A win over Miami would get FSU back into the NCAA tournament conversation, but even then there would be no guarantees. So, like most bubble teams, their best bet is to make it simple, win the tournament and claim the ACC’s automatic bid.

Hence Hamilton’s extra suitcase.

“We understand that we’ve got to go play our way in,” he said. “That’s a challenge that I think we’re looking forward to.”

After a difficult February, the Seminoles could hardly have asked for a better start to March.

FSU brings a modest, two-game winning streak to Washington, but those two wins – at home against then-No. 21 Notre Dame and fellow bubble team Syracuse – were among its most important of the season, in that they came on the heels of a five-game losing streak.

Which means that the Seminoles begin postseason play with a fresh reminder of exactly what they can do when everything is clicking.

“We’re playing our best basketball, and I think we still have opportunities to get better,” said freshman guard Malik Beasley, who on Monday was named the ACC’s freshman of the week for the third time this season.

“We’re confident. We’re smiling still. We’re laughing.”

The Seminoles are plenty familiar with their first three opponents.

They topped Boston College, 72-62, in the Conte Forum on Jan. 26.  They played at Virginia Tech just two weeks ago and controlled much of the game before letting a late lead slip away in an 83-73 defeat.

And despite an 0-2 mark against Miami, the Seminoles had the Hurricanes on the ropes last month in Tallahassee and narrowly missed a chance at a last-second victory.

While the players say they’re focused solely on Boston College, Hamilton still has his staff prepping for potential matchups against the Hokies and Hurricanes.

“Those guys have been studying all year long,” Hamilton said. “We have films and tendencies and all of the above.”

As for FSU’s first opponent, Boston College recently made headlines by becoming the first school to go 0-18 in ACC play.

Despite that, the Eagles do have a couple dangerous players – guard Eli Carter scores more than 15 points and averages more than four assists per game  – and Hamilton is quick to point out that the Eagles have often been more competitive than their record suggests.

Two of their last three losses have come by five points or fewer.

“They’ve tried to bite people all year long,” he said. “And we’ve got to make sure we’re not the first one.”

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