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Florida State is here, and Florida State is still tall

Here’s one more chance for a big road win.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

I was looking into Florida State this afternoon, and I realized, good lord, this is Leonard Hamilton’s 17th season in Tallahassee. A big reason that caught me off guard is the fact that Ham never ages, but in all seriousness, you’d expect that sort of longevity at one institution to come with more widespread acknowledgement.

Hamilton’s FSU tenure has been a little all over the place, which is no indictment of his coaching, but probably more a description of a good coach at a bad basketball school. The Seminoles missed the NCAAs in each of his first six seasons, then went to four straight, then missed four straight, and they’re up now for three straight.

If you recognize that you have a coach well-suited for your situation and also understand that your resources and emphasis differ from most of your conference peers, then you too could be as shrewd as the people who have preserved Leonard Hamilton for this long. To Florida State’s eternal credit, Hamilton’s job never seems to be in jeopardy. It shouldn’t be.

FSU In ACC Games

Seminoles OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Seminoles OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 104.1 (6) 49.5 (7) 18.0 (8) 30.5 (7) 35.7 (3)
Defense 97.1 (4) 46.6 (4) 18.7 (5) 25.9 (4) 35.3 (12)

(Ranks among 15 ACC teams in ACC games only.)

If you don’t coach at a college basketball power, then you probably need a dose of unconventional thinking if you hope to compete with those powers on a regular basis. Hamilton long ago decided to go out and see what he could do by bringing in really tall guys on a regular basis.

The Noles got an ACC tournament title, a Sweet Sixteen, and an Elite Eight out of that deal. Not bad! But there are inconsistencies that come hand-in-hand with doing things on one particular extreme, which in FSU’s case has mostly materialized in struggles at the offensive end of the court.

Florida State usually has trouble protecting the ball and also tends not to be a significant perimeter-scoring threat—though neither shortcoming precludes the Seminoles from having an effective offense. Remember all the tall people. But the Seminoles have never had an elite offense under Hamilton, and that remains true in 2019.

It’s clear by now that Hamilton’s blueprint works, that he’s capable of using it to establish teams that can win the ACC and do damage in the NCAAs. Ham’s best teams earn the margin at the defensive end, leveraging their disruption there to decisive effect. This year’s group is capable of that these next few weeks.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes FSU by six.