For a second straight season, March Madness will elude Florida State. As the brackets were released on Sunday, FSU sat on the outside looking in after a 19-13 finish which included wins over Virginia Commonwealth, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh. The Seminoles instead will head to the NIT where they will be given a top seed.
Florida State’s run to New York begins with a home match-up against last year’s NCAA sweetheart — Florida Gulf Coast. Should the Seminoles get past FGCU, they’ll participate in what could be an intriguing match-up against either Georgetown or West Virginia.
The most difficult obstacle for Florida State in the NIT may be itself. After coming so close to a fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in six years, the young Seminoles could find it difficult to get up for a consolation tournament.
While the stakes in the NIT pale in comparison to the NCAA Tournament, there may be reason for FSU to show up. Florida State plays six sophomores and one freshman in its regular rotation and more games against fairly quality competition can only be seen as a good thing heading into next season. After an 18-15 record with a freshman laden roster last season however, FSU was ousted in the first round of the NIT by Louisiana Tech.
Traditionally, Florida State has not played its best basketball in the NIT. Despite five appearances since, FSU has not advanced to the final four of the tournament since falling to Michigan in the NIT title game back in 1997.
Though the NIT will provide the opportunity for Florida State’s young roster to improve, it will also signify the end of the careers of seniors Okaro White and Ian Miller. White and Miller are the lone holdovers from Florida State’s 2011 team that advanced to the Sweet 16 and the 2012 squad that claimed the school’s only ACC title.
Despite a promising start to the 2013-14 season, when the brackets were released on Sunday, the Seminoles sat on the wrong side of the bubble. While FSU won’t have the opportunity to make a Cinderella run in the big dance, the road to Madison Square Garden will go through Tallahassee — even if very few are paying attention.