Leonard Hamilton has turned Florida State basketball into a perennial sleeping giant and the 2019-20 season was no different for the Seminoles.
Never count out Florida State basketball. That should be the rule of thumb when it comes to the Seminoles as long as head coach Leonard Hamilton is manning the sidelines. Yet, they were doubted coming into the 2019-20 college basketball season as they were left out of the preseason AP Top 25. Of course, that was validated when the team lost their season-opener to Pittsburgh.
But after that loss to the Panthers, the Seminoles only lost four games in their next 30 in the regular season. Though they were far from a juggernaut, Hamilton recognized the strengths of his team led by veterans Trent Forrest and M.J. Walker along with youngsters in Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams as a freaky-athletic team that could win by creating chaos. And they did so with aplomb.
To be sure, FSU had some questionable moments along the way beyond the loss to a bad Pitt team. The Noles got blown out by Indiana in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, gave up a tough loss to Clemson and were out-defensed by Tony Bennett and Virginia in the heart of conference play, a game where their athleticism should’ve carried them through.
Despite those down moments, though, Florida State also picked up big wins over Louisville (twice), Virginia at home, North Carolina after the return of Cole Anthony and at NC State. And that led to them narrowly winning the ACC regular-season crown with a 26-5 overall record and 16-4 conference record.
Finishing the season as the No. 4 ranked team in the country, it’s likely the Seminoles could’ve earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament had they been successful in the ACC Tournament. Whether or not their offensive woes would’ve bitten them in March Madness remains to be seen — it very well could’ve — it’s clear Florida State would’ve been a tough matchup for anyone.
But alas, they never got the opportunity to prove themselves as March Madness was canceled. However, we can still look back on the season that was for Florida State basketball and what’s coming down the road as well.