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Florida State Seminoles basketball becomes a hot ticket with chance to knock off Duke again

When student tickets for a football matchup featuring No. 1 Oklahoma against No. 5 Florida State became available online last fall, Seminole students snapped them up in 17 minutes.

That contest was the second hottest sporting ticket of the year.

According to the FSU sports information office, tickets to tonight's basketball matchup between No. 5 Duke and the No. 15 Seminoles sold out in 15 minutes. With a win in the first matchup of top-15 teams at the Donald L. Tucker Center since Feb. 27, 1993, FSU would sweep the Blue Devils for the first time and maintain prime positioning to claim a share of its first ACC regular-season title.

"They've beaten good teams before, that's nothing new," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said of the Seminoles. "The difference is this year they're consistently playing at a championship level. They don't need to beat Duke or UNC just to make the tournament, they're competing for the conference championship."

Regardless of the outcome in the game at 7 tonight with the Blue Devils (23-4, 10-2 ACC), FSU (19-7, 10-2) can already claim a school first, having beaten the four North Carolina ACC schools — Duke, UNC, N.C. State and Wake Forest — in the same season. This comes on the heels of last season's first appearance in the Sweet 16 since that 1992-93 season, and this year's senior class will be the first to dance in the NCAA Tournament all four years.

Not bad for a football school.

"The thinking used to be, 10-15 years ago, that a coach would say, 'I don't want to go to a football school because if you go to a football school, you're always going to play second fiddle,' " CBS Sports analyst and Sports Illustrated reporter Seth Davis said. "There's far more advantages than disadvantages to being at a football school. You have a lot of resources. A lot of money comes through Tallahassee because of that football program, even when it's not really winning at a high level."

In addition, coach Leonard Hamilton, in his 10th year, has had time to build ("Do you think the football coach would survive six seasons without making it to a bowl game?" Davis said). Four- and five-star recruits and junior college transfers power FSU, and McDonald's All-American Michael Snaer made 3-pointers to beat Duke and Virginia Tech.

Now, with the Seminoles, Blue Devils and Tar Heels sitting atop the conference, FSU has the advantage of location. The pressure that exists in the ACC's heartland is absent in Tallahassee.

"We're not caught up in the media frenzy of all that goes on in the region," Hamilton said Monday. "We're not really caught up in the day-to-day excitement that goes on in that area. So, all the things that might cause them to feel pressure, we're not exposed to. We're just really chugging along, trying to win games."

Beating out Duke and UNC for recruits in the future will be nearly impossible, Davis said, and beating Florida is difficult as well. But defeating those schools on the court does bring national recognition. And there are virtues in a fan base that has other interests.

"For Florida State basketball, if you win, they will come out, they will support you, they will love you," Davis said. "If you lose, they will look at football recruiting and get excited for the spring game."

.TONIGHT

No. 15 Florida State vs. No. 5 Duke

When/where: 7; Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee

TV/radio: ESPN; 1040-AM

Records: Duke 23-4, 10-2 ACC; FSU 19-7, 10-2

Notable: FSU won the teams' first meeting on Jan. 21, 76-73 on Michael Snaer's 3-pointer at the buzzer. … Each team has lost once since. The Blue Devils are 7-1, losing at home to Miami 78-74 in overtime on Feb. 5. The Seminoles are 6-1, losing at Boston College 64-60 on Feb. 8. … The winner ties North Carolina atop the ACC and clinches a bye for the conference tournament. … Snaer leads FSU with 13.5 ppg. … Duke is led by erratic freshman Austin Rivers, who shot 7-for-13 in Sunday's win over Boston College after going 7-for-22 in the previous two games. He averages 15 points.

Times staff

Florida State Seminoles basketball becomes a hot ticket with chance to knock off Duke again 02/22/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 12:01am]
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