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Florida State Seminoles, your 2020 NCAA basketball ‘national champions’

The Florida Senate votes FSU the winner of the NCAA Tournament, which was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida State players gather with the championship trophy on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Greensboro, N.C., after they were announced the winner of the ACC tournament following the announcement that the remainder of the college basketball postseason had been canceled. [BEN MCKEOWN  |  AP]
Florida State players gather with the championship trophy on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Greensboro, N.C., after they were announced the winner of the ACC tournament following the announcement that the remainder of the college basketball postseason had been canceled. [BEN MCKEOWN | AP]

Florida State has “won” its first NCAA basketball national champion­ship, at least in the eyes of state legislators.

FSU was declared the 2020 “national champions” by a 37-2 vote of the Florida Senate on Friday. Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, introduced the measure earlier in the day.

On Thursday, the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, costing the No. 4-ranked Seminoles — and 67 other teams — a chance at the national championship.

“I introduced a resolution today in the @FLSenate declaring the @FSUHoops Team National Champions,” tweeted Gruters, a Florida State graduate. “The cornovirus will continue to impact all areas of our life but this is Florida State’s year. Congratulations to our 2020 National Champions and Go Noles!”

The resolution also stated that it will be presented to coach Leonard Hamilton and university president John Thrasher “as a tangible token of the sentiments of the Florida Senate.”

FSU (26-5, 16-4 ACC) was the top seed heading into its conference tournament after winning the school’s first ACC regular-season basketball title. After that tournament was canceled Thursday, ACC commissioner John Swofford awarded the Seminoles the conference championship.

“The Seminoles, ranked No. 4 in the national college basketball standings, ended the regular season with a 26–5 record and were favored to challenge the top seeds in the national tournament and take home the national title,” read part of Senate Resolution 23-05217-20, which passed late Friday.

It’s a move that some are comparing to UCF’s charge to get its 13-0 football team named national champions in 2017 despite not playing in the College Football Playoff. The Senate passed a resolution that then-Gov. Rick Scott signed, proclaiming UCF “will be recognized as the … National Champions in Florida.”

Some Seminoles fans want no part of that.

“No thanks. I’d rather say we just missed the opportunity to earn this title because of an international pandemic. Let’s not be UCF about this,” Twitter user @ohsmileykylie said.

“I speak for all of FSU when I say not a single soul wanted this and/or recognizes this,” Twitter user @DFToffy said.

“Has about the same weight as one of my New Years Resolutions.” Twitter user @olenole7 said.

The closest FSU has come to winning a real national title in basketball was 1972, falling 81-76 in the final to undefeated UCLA, led by sophomore center Bill Walton and legendary coach John Wooden, who captured his eighth of 10 national titles.

The Seminoles would have been one of the favorites heading into the NCAA Tournament, and Hamilton’s team had the backing of ESPN analyst and state of Florida resident Dick Vitale, who had tweeted: “If the NCAA tourney @marchmadness was to be played I would have picked @FSUHoops to be National Champs. @FSUCoachHam is my National Coach of the Year.”

In the final Associated Press Top 25 poll, only No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Dayton were ranked ahead of FSU. No word yet on if the states of Kansas, Washington and Ohio have declared national champions.

Information from the Tallahassee Democrat contributed to this report.

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