FSU falls to UNC, tournament bid in jeopardy?

Overmatched 'Noles fall 73-58 and must now wait to hear whether or not they will be playing in the NCAA or NIT Tournament.

The next two days may feel like an eternity for the Florida State men's basketball team.

After losing to No. 1 seed North Carolina 73-58 in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Friday, Seminole players and coaches must now wait until Selection Sunday to see if their 2006-07 season resume is enough to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

After been snubbed a season ago, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton stated his case following the loss to UNC why the Seminoles should be dancing this year.

"When you look at our strength of schedule, there aren't ery many teams I think in the country that has played any more top 40 teams than we have," Hamilton said. "Last year we were 9-7 in the league and we won 19 games overall and (the reason they didn't get in) was strength of schedule. Now, I don't know whether there are very many people who have gone and played the type of schedule that we've played."

Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, whose team never trailed in their victory over FSU, thinks that Florida State should hear their name called this weekend.

"I think they should be a tournament team," Williams said. "There's no question in my mind. I have a hard time believing they are not one of the top 65 teams in the country. It would be a shame for people not to see Al Thornton in the NCAA Tournament."

Though FSU's humble all-conference forward won't say it, he likely agrees with Williams' sentiments – especially since his performance Friday wasn't what Seminole fans are used to seeing.

A day after scoring a game-high 25 points and hitting the winning free throw to force the matchup with UNC, the Georgia native was held in check scoring just 12 points and fouling out with 6:48 remaining in the contest.

"They've got some long defenders. They made it tough for me," Thornton said of the stifling Tar Heel defense that held him to just 4-of-13 shooting. "I just really couldn't get in an offensive rhythm. I had some good looks the ball just wasn't going in for me."

Thornton's inability to muster much offense was a universal problem for the Seminoles.

For the game, FSU (20-12, 7-9 ACC) shot a staggering 30.9 percent from the field. Guards Toney Douglas and Jerel Allen scored in double figures with 10 points apiece but the combined to go just 5-of-18 from the field.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, UNC (26-6, 11-5 ACC) was 52.9 percent from the field and had four players on the board in double-digit scoring marks.

Wayne Ellington led all scorers with 18 points.

The Seminoles now return to Tallahassee where Hamilton said they will wait to hear the future. The team will gather together Sunday to watch the selection process unfold.

After a season in which his touch was all over FSU's successes, what happens in the next few days is out of Thornton's hands.

"I really don't know. I really can't say," he said when questioned whether or not he thought his team had a shot at the NCAA Tournament. "That's not my decision to make. Hopefully we get in."


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