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Storylines, stats and notes as FSU begins play in ACC Tournament

Veteran-led teams have consistently found success in college basketball once the postseason begins. Florida State should benefit from having a roster full of juniors and seniors.

Coach Leonard Hamilton has been somewhat critical of the Seminoles leading up to the ACC Tournament, likely a challenge to the players after recent road losses at North Carolina and Notre Dame.

“It seems like we still are not playing in my opinion like veterans,” Hamilton said. “We still got a little bit of a ceiling now. We have great culture. They’ve shown good leadership, but I do believe now that we’re in the postseason hopefully that experience will be more of a factor in the fact that they can look back at the do’s and the don’ts and the adjustments that we’ve made.”

The Seminoles (15-5) are at a crucial juncture if they want to maximize their NCAA Tournament seeding (and potential) in the postseason. They have played well at home, winning all of their ACC games, but also have gone 3-4 on the road. FSU’s game in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. will be against Duke, which knocked off Louisville on Wednesday — and it could set up a pro-Duke crowd for a night game in Greensboro, N.C.

FSU will need to reverse a trend of poor shooting nights away from Tallahassee but the Seminoles will also need to limit turnovers and put an emphasis on rebounding.

In part because of how teams defend but also sight lines of arenas, the Seminoles have shot poorly from 3-point range on the road. From beyond the arc in losses, FSU shot 28.1 percent at Clemson, 21.4 percent at Georgia Tech, 29.4 percent at North Carolina and 25 percent at Notre Dame.

These numbers are magnified when taking into account the Seminoles’ success from long range overall — making 38.5 percent of their 3-pointers on the season. It’s among the highest totals since FSU’s mid-1980s teams with the likes of George McLeod.

FSU also had a high rate of turnovers in three road ACC losses, with 20 at Georgia Tech, 17 at Clemson and UNC (the Seminoles had 14 at Notre Dame). And the Seminoles were out rebounded badly at Clemson (49-35) and at UNC (44-36). FSU did outrebound GT (37-31) in the road matchup and the rebounding edge went slightly in Notre Dame’s favor (38-35) on Saturday.

This may be an overall down year for the ACC but it’s one where the margins are narrow, even for FSU in a season when it was the No. 2 team in the league in the regular season. The reward for it is a double-bye in the ACC Tournament but also a talented albeit young Duke.

“On any given night anyone could win, especially in the ACC,” Hamilton said. “Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech. I’m not really sure a whole lot of people expected us to be where we are. But that just shows the strength of this conference and the power of bluebloods and how the like you say the Dukes and the Louisvilles and the North Carolinas, they have elevated, they pulled some of us up and given us an opportunity to elevate ourselves.”