Against plenty of odds and aided by plenty of ridiculous shots, Florida State survived.
The fourth-seeded Seminoles (26-6, 13-5 in ACC) beat Virginia Tech (24-8, 12-6 in ACC) for the second time in 10 days — again in overtime — 65-63 in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals in Charlotte, North Carolina Thursday afternoon.
It gives FSU just its second ACC Tournament Semifinal appearance since it won it all in 2012.
With the win, FSU will have another chance to take down the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers (27-2, 16-2 in ACC) Friday night at 7 p.m.
While the win over the Hokies all-but secured a top-four seed for the Seminoles in next week’s NCAA Tournament, the implications of beating the Cavaliers could be even bigger for FSU.
FSU entered Thursday’s game as the second-highest No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament according to BracketMatrix.com.
A win over the Cavaliers could very likely push FSU up to the three-seed line, improving its odds of earning a spot in nearby Jacksonville for the NCAA Tournament.
That win won’t come easy. UVA’s only two losses this season have come against a full-strength Duke squad. They’ve won each of their other 27 games. Nine of their 17 wins against ACC teams have been by 20-plus points.
FSU opened its ACC slate against the Cavaliers on the road on Jan. 5 and suffered a 65-52 loss that was not nearly that close until FSU rattled off a massive late-game run against UVA’s walk-ons in the closing minutes.
That loss sent FSU careening towards its 1-4 start to conference play.
FSU last beat UVA on a Dwayne Bacon buzzer beater on Dec. 31, 2016. The Seminoles have won two of the last four against the Hoos, but enter Friday’s game on a two-game losing streak.
FSU trails Virginia 25-24 in the all-time series and has won just three of the last 11 games between the two teams. They’re 7-8 all-time against UVA teams coached by Tony Bennett.
The matchup presents a contrast of styles. FSU wants to run in transition and go fast while UVA runs the slowest offense in the country, averaging 59.5 possessions per game.
If FSU is susceptible to the same mistakes it was able to overcome to beat the Hokies, the rematch with the Hoos may be a blowout.
FSU committed 17 turnovers against VT, the most it has committed since it had 21 in the win over Syracuse 10 games ago on Feb. 5.
Against a team that limits the number of possessions so staunchly, that many turnovers — which VT turned into 19 points — would be a killer.
The Seminoles also overcame a game which saw them get dominated inside. VT outscored FSU 38-14 in the paint.
FSU’s four bigs — Mfiondu Kabengele, Phil Cofer, RaiQuan Gray and Christ Koumadje — combined to score 23 points, but shot 31.8 percent from the floor and made just three of their 13 (23.1 percent) two-point shots.
They committed a combined 10 fouls and had eight turnovers between them.
As good as VT’s defense is, UVA’s is even better and will force the Seminoles to earn all of their points.
While FSU needs to avoid these situations to be able to keep it close against the Cavaliers, a similar three-point shooting performance to FSU’s on Thursday would go a long way towards a competitive game.
The Seminoles made 12 three-pointers in the win over VT. That’s tied for the most they have made this season with the 12 they hit in the win at Miami on Jan. 27.
Sure, they needed 31 attempts to get there (38.7 percent) but being productive from three excuses the fact that FSU took more shots from the perimeter than inside the arc (26).
UVA’s pack-line defense will make it tough to get anything inside. They dare opposing teams to hit their threes.
FSU didn’t in the first matchup this season, shooting 26.1 percent from outside the arc. A similar perimeter performance to the one the Seminoles had Thursday may be enough to give them a shot.
A win over the Cavaliers would instantly become FSU’s best victory of the season, drastically improving its resume.
Not only would it likely give the Seminoles a No. 3 seed, it would mark FSU’s first appearance in the ACC Championship Game since it won the tournament in 2012.
No. 13 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia
ACC Tournament Semifinals
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
TV/Radio: ESPN/103.1 FM