TALLAHASSEE — Florida State heads into its ACC tournament quarterfinal test (9:30 tonight, ESPN2) with five wins in its past six games and designs on returning to the title game a second straight season.
The Seminoles (22-8, 10-6 ACC), the No. 3 seed, play North Carolina State, which defeated Clemson on Thursday. The Wolfpack defeated the Seminoles 88-81 in Tallahassee on Jan. 12.
Win or lose tonight, FSU will likely make the NCAA Tournament.
"It really doesn't matter who you're playing in the ACC," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Anyone is capable of beating you."
The Seminoles, who feature five sophomores and a freshman in an eight-man rotation, finished strong despite a falloff by 7-foot-1 sophomore center Solomon Alabi. He averaged 7.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in the final six games.
"People have been giving him a lot of attention," Hamilton said. "We have to see whether or not we can get him adjusted to the challenge of what people are doing to him once he gets into the lane. That's part of the next phase in the adjustments he has to make."
Alabi led the team averaging 11.6 points per game. The ACC's defensive player of the year, Chris Singleton, was right behind at 10.4.
Seven players have had game highs this season, led by Alabi and Singleton with seven each.
"We've figured all along that we'd have to win games by committee," Hamilton said. "We have different guys stepping up."
Freshman Michael Snaer has picked up a lot of the scoring slack in recent weeks. The 6-4 Californian has averaged 10 points a game since Dec. 2 and led the Seminoles in scoring in three of the past six games.
He finished as the third-leading scorer at 8.9.
After eliminating North Carolina 73-70 in last year's semifinal, the Seminoles lost to Duke 79-69 in the championship game.
Hamilton said last year's experience will help his young club deal with the tournament frenzy.
"I'm sure it has a calming effect, gives the kids an idea of what to expect," he said. "But none of that helps you with this game. It's a different team, a different year."