Florida State knows it must win a second straight ACC tournament championship this weekend in Greensboro, N.C., to reach the NCAA tournament.
History is not on FSU’s side.
Since the league expanded to 12 members starting in the 2004-05 season, the winner of the ACC tournament has enjoyed a first-round bye every year. After a disappointing regular season, FSU must win four games in four days to repeat and avoid a trip to a lesser postseason tournament.
Florida State faces Clemson (13-17) tonight in the first round. A victory advances the Seminoles (17-14) into Friday’s quarterfinals against North Carolina (22-9).
FSU has endured a difficult rebuilding season, but the Seminoles have played better lately, having won three of their last four games.
“By no means do I feel that we have arrived, but I think there seems to be a sense of progress that we are making,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “This is probably as consistent as we have been this season, and so hopefully that will be something we can gain a little momentum from as we go into the ACC tournament.”
For the first time since it joined the ACC in 2004, Miami will be spectators on the first day of the tournament.
As the No. 1 seed, ninth-ranked Miami (24-6) is off until Friday’s quarterfinals when it faces the winner of today’s Boston College-Georgia Tech game. The three other schools that earned a bye are Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. UM is a combined 4-1 this season against that trio with the one loss coming by a three-point margin at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Duke two weeks ago.
Miami has won as many as two games only once in eight previous trips to the ACC tournament. But this Hurricanes’ team — fresh off a regular-season conference title and one victory shy of setting the school record for wins — may be like no other.
“We want more,” said senior forward Kenny Kadji, named second-team All-ACC on Monday. “We want more cutting nets, we want more celebration. We know we have three games to win. It’s one and done. We’ve got to give everything we have. Our goal is to win the ACC. Wherever we have to go, whoever we have to play…”
Heading into the tournament, there appears to be no clear cut favorite. UM led the conference standings nearly from start to finish but enters ACC play having lost three of its last five games.
Duke, which leads all teams with 19 ACC tournament titles, has won each of its three games since the return of senior forward Ryan Kelly to the starting lineup. The second-ranked Blue Devils (27-4) have also won the last three conference tourneys held at the Greensboro Coliseum.
UM and Duke can only meet if they play in Sunday’s championship game.