Hoop It Up

For the first time in four years, Florida State didn't find itself in the ‘play-in' game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. Instead, the Seminoles (18-12, 6-10) gained the seventh seed and will take the court opposite two-seed N.C. State in the quarterfinal round Friday night.

After finishing the regular season with four consecutive losses, Florida State was in danger of falling into what has been jokingly referred to in the past as the "Cellar Classic" or "Clemson-FSU Invitational".

But Maryland's win over Virginia in their season finale ensured that the Cavaliers would play the Tigers in the 8/9 seed game for a quarterfinal berth opposite Duke.

For the 'Noles, the seeding is more than a moral victory. Leading scorer Tim Pickett, hobbled by a severely sprained right ankle, will have an extra day to rest.

Pickett sported an air cast on the ankle after Saturday's loss to Georgia Tech but FSU coach Leonard Hamilton was optimistic about his shooting guard's chances to play.

"I think it is just one of those kinds of turns that is real aggravating and real sore," Hamilton said.

"It just kind of takes it toll on us. I think he should be ready by when we have to play."

Life without Pickett has the potential be rough, as evidenced in the 63-60 loss to the Yellow Jackets. Pickett played just 20 minutes and with the game on the line, FSU was forced to turn to freshman Von Wafer. Wafer couldn't respond, missing a pair of ill-advised 3s in the game's closing minutes.

"I can tell you that Florida State is going to have a tough time winning when Tim Pickett only plays 20 minutes," Hamilton said.

"We probably were fortunate to be where we were down the stretch. With the type of team that we have had… maybe we have been depending on him too much." Wafer says that, given another chance, he is capable of making a play in the clutch. Given Pickett's status, he may have to.

The McDonald's All-American said he settled on poor opportunities causing his misses at Tech.

"I thought about winning the game so bad I didn't think about my other teammates and being patient and getting good shots," Wafer said.

"I forced some things. I took some bad shots I shouldn't have taken. Coach Hamilton put his trust in me and I feel like I let him down." The game plan against the No. 17 Wolfpack? Play all 40 minutes.

"Everyone has played everyone twice," said Hamilton, whose team has lost 11 straight to N.C. State. "We would be familiar with anyone we played. What we have to do his play hard and keep our energy and intensity up for the entire game."

"A lot of what we're working on is ourselves, not who we play. We need to be more sound fundamentally if we want to close out this season the way we want to."

FSU's slim tournament hopes now ride on how it performs on Greensboro. The Seminoles' only chance to gain entry would be if the Selection Committee chose to take seven teams from the ACC. With Maryland now a lock, the seventh entry would be either FSU or Virginia.

Said Andrew Wilson on FSU deserving a bid:

"I have no idea. That is up to the committee. We just have to go up to the ACC (Tournament) and play as well as we can and pull some wins out."

Wafer is more confident.

"I really don't know about the (NCAA Tournament)," he said. "I just know that in the ACC Tournament we are going to play hard and we are going to try to shock the world. Winning the whole thing would end the discussion."

Tip is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN.

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