FSU basketball puts itself on the map

Published 4:49 pm Friday, January 13, 2017

There may be no more hated team in all of college sports than Duke basketball. That was readily apparent on Tuesday night when a record crowd of 11, 675 packed the Tucker Center for the match-up between No. 9 Florida State and No. 7 Duke. The crowd was electric, the student section was rowdy and the Seminoles were propelled to victory due to stingy defense and the best atmosphere I have ever experience at an FSU basketball game and I have been to some big games.

I was there, and stormed the court, in 2011 when FSU upset a then No. 1 and undefeated Duke Blue Devil. I was at the Tuck in 2012 when FSU came from nowhere to crush North Carolina by 33 points when Deividas Dulkys had the game of his life and got white hot from behind the arc. I experienced the heartbreak in 2011 when Harrison Barnes ruined FSU’s upset bid against UNC with a buzzer beating 3-pointer.

Those were great games. There were some big wins for FSU. The atmosphere in the Tucker Center doesn’t even compare though. From opening tip to the final buzzer the crowd on Tuesday was fully invested in the game. There were cheers every time FSU did well and boos and other unsavory chants that I can’t print every time Grayson “leg sweep” Allen touched the ball.

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This is all the more impressive, because FSU is assuredly not a basketball school. The team hasn’t made the big dance in a few years. Football rules the school and baseball is probably the second most important to Seminole fans, not basketball.

This year is different though. This is arguably the most talented roster FSU has ever assembled on the men’s basketball team and without a doubt the most talented team Leonard Hamilton has assembled.

The team is long, athletic, fast and deep and I mean really deep. This team can compete and that was on full display on Tuesday night. With a big game looming on Saturday afternoon against UNC, FSU has a chance to move into the top and pretty much lock up a tournament berth early in the year with a fifth win over a top-25 team. This team is legit and I just hope the fans continue to show up and cheer even when the opponent isn’t the hated Blue Devils.

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