Home loss to Heels likely seals Florida State's fate

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Leonard Hamilton and the Noles have a lot of ground to make up now. (USATSI)
Leonard Hamilton and the Noles have a lot of ground to make up now. (USATSI)

It's been more than a month since Florida State won back-to-back games. And given the schedule going forward, it will be at least six weeks before FSU has a shot to end that skid.

When you're saying that about any team, and then you look at the calendar and see that it's the middle of February ... that's a big issue. So with Monday night's collapse at home to North Carolina, the Seminoles' NCAA tournament chances could've taken the first hit atop the final nail.

FSU fell 81-75 to North Carolina on its home floor, and of course the loss is tough take, but especially so when you consider FSU got out to a hot start and crumbled away its lead. It was 21-6 before UNC got itself together and made a push back.

Also has to be hard to swallow considering Heels star forward James Michael McAdoo, who averages 15 points and seven rebounds, didn't score and fouled out with 4:19 remaining. No matter for UNC, since Kennedy Meeks was 11-of-12 from the field and had a career-best 23 points. Point guard Marcus Paige, who was terrible in the first half, went on a tear in the final 10 minutes. He hit three 3-points in a four-minute stretch to give and extend UNC a lead.

Wrote over the weekend how North Carolina's going in the right direction and is likely to be rewarded in a big way on Selection Sunday thanks to the Heels beating the teams it should.

Leonard Hamilton's crew? Just can't see it going forward. I'm not sure if FSU falls in that category of "should" have been beaten by UNC, but given the early lead and bad shooting from the Heels, it's an unattrractive look to lose a game like this.

The Seminoles have two nice chances left before the ACC tournament: at Pittsburgh this weekend, and home to Syracuse to close out the season on March 9. Both can be won, but with a 2-6 record against teams in the KenPom.com top 50, how optimistic should Noles fans be?

15-11 and 6-8 in the league is the current standing. The team's RPI entering the night was 61 with a strength of schedule near 50 and a 2-6 record against the RPI top 50. Those numbers don't stack up combined with the sputtering play over the past five weeks. The wins have come against Miami, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Notre Dame, all of whom a fighting for a bid -- in the NIT.

Hamilton is in his 12th season at FSU. He had the program in a nice spot between 2009-2012, when FSU made four straight NCAA tourneys with an average seed of No. 7. But between those four trips are seven -- and now likely eight -- campaigns without an NCAA tourney bid. Under Hamilton FSU is never bad (averaging 19.9 wins, not including this season), but it's often blended in with the pack both in terms of its conference and nationally.

That would appear to be the case this season. And what's worse, FSU will lose three seniors of impact this year, including the team's best player in Ian Miller. He had a team-best 22 points Monday.

Side note: Roy Williams set a new ACC coaching record for the fastest in league history to 300 games won overall. Williams beat Dean Smith's record of 406 games by doing it in 386. UNC's now won seven in a row. Next up? Big one at home Thursday night against Duke.

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