One year ago, Leonard Hamilton led a Florida State men’s basketball team that was widely considered the best of his tenure, and one of the best in school history.
The 2019-20 Seminoles won the school’s first regular-season ACC championship and were expected to be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament — with an outside shot at being a No. 1, depending on what happened in the conference tournaments.
None of that materialized, of course, because college athletics was shut down in mid-March by the coronavirus pandemic. And FSU fans were left only with dreams of what might have been.
Could that team have won it all?
Would it at least have made it to the Final Four?
Did Hamilton miss out on his best chance to win a national championship as a head coach?
Certainly, we all thought, the Seminoles wouldn’t be able to pick up right where they left off. Not after losing three stars — Trent Forrest, Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams — to the NBA. (Vassell and Williams were both NBA Draft lottery picks, and Forrest signed a free agent deal with the Utah Jazz.)
Well, perhaps we were wrong.
Through 10 ACC games — what should be the midpoint of the scheduled 20-game conference schedule — Florida State actually boasts the exact same winning percentage as they did a year ago. After throttling No. 7 Virginia on Monday by 21 points, the Seminoles are 8-2 in conference play; they went 16-4 last year.
And from a statistical standpoint, this team is actually outpacing last season’s squad in many statistical categories, while dropping off in only a few.
Offensively, this team is playing better by just about every measure, particularly in shooting percentages. Their defensive numbers have dipped in some categories, but they actually have improved in terms of overall scoring margin.
Before we take a closer look at the numbers, it’s fair to point out a couple of factors that could be skewing the numbers.
No. 1, due to some COVID cancellations, FSU has played 7 of 10 ACC games at home this season. So that certainly could inflate the shooting percentages while also affecting other statistics and the overall win percentage.
No. 2, this obviously is a down year for the ACC overall. So the competition is not quite as strong, which could inflate statistics as well.
And No. 3, this is 10 games versus 20. So a larger sample size will present a clearer picture.
Having said all that, it’s interesting to compare where the No. 16 Seminoles are now with where they were at the end of last season, when they were widely considered one of the top teams in the country.
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