The Daily Nole

Hot Take Tuesday: Basketball Has Become FSU’s Premier Men’s Program

Perrone Ford/PTFPhoto/FSU athletics

While Florida State fans anxiously await the announcement of the program’s next head football coach, Leonard Hamilton’s basketball program appears to be in the midst of yet another outstanding season.

The No. 17 Seminoles are ranked for the first time this season after pulling off a pair of 3-point victories to win the Emerald Coast Classic in Northwest Florida over Thanksgiving weekend. Since dropping a 2-point heartbreaker at Pittsburgh to open the season, FSU has won seven straight as it prepares to visit Indiana on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Fresh off consecutive trips past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, FSU hoops is not only changing its national perception as a program, but the team has become the premier men’s athletic program. That was a title reserved for the football and baseball teams not that long ago.

FSU baseball may still have a claim as it has reached the College World Series in two of the last three seasons and has won three of the last five ACC Tournaments. With that said, however, FSU has still played second fiddle to rival Florida in the state.

The Seminoles have lost 11 straight games to rival Florida. The Gators are also just two years removed from their first national championship.

While FSU has played well in the conference tournament, it hasn’t finished better than sixth in the conference during the regular season over the last three years and not higher than fourth since 2014. There is also a decent amount of uncertainty around the program with head coach Mike Martin retiring after four decades with the program.

FSU football will always get the most notoriety, but over the last three seasons, it has a combined record of 18-19. The Seminoles have lost five straight to Clemson and are just a combined 1-5 against rivals Miami and Florida over the last three seasons.

FSU hoops, on the other hand, continues to trend upward under a now 71-year-old Hamilton. Over the last three seasons, FSU has lost a total of three games at home. While the baseball program can’t seem to figure out rival Florida, the Seminoles have won six straight over the Gators on the hardwood, including the last three by an average of nearly 17 points.

During the 2016-17 season, FSU finished undefeated at home for the first time since the 1975-76 campaign. The Seminoles captured the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament before getting upset in the second round by Xavier. Both of those seedings tied the best mark in program history.

FSU took a step back the following regular season, going just 9-9 in ACC play, but managed to reach the Elite Eight for the first time in 25 years. During its run, FSU beat Missouri, Xavier and reigning national runner-up Gonzaga before falling to Michigan. The thrilling 75-70 win over Xavier was FSU’s first ever over a No. 1 seed.

FSU was unable to make a return trip last season as it fell to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, but it did set new school records for wins (29) and ACC wins (13). The Seminoles also reached the ACC Championship for just the third time in their history. At one point, FSU won a program-record eight straight ACC games.

Football, basketball and baseball are certainly the big three men’s sports, but no other FSU men’s program has had the success of late that the hoops program has. FSU cross country hasn’t finished higher than 25th at the NCAA Championships since a fifth-place finish in 2012. FSU men’s tennis hasn’t advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

Last season, FSU men’s golf failed to reach the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2011. FSU men’s swimming and diving hasn’t finished better than 14th at the NCAA Championships since 2009 and last season’s 14th-place finish was its first in the top 20 since 2014.

FSU track and field has had success in recent years. The Seminoles finished sixth at last year’s NCAA Indoor Champions and 17th at the Outdoor Championships after finishing 21st and 11th, respectively, in the year prior. In the two years prior, FSU failed to finish higher than 37th at either of the two events.

This isn’t to say that Florida State doesn’t have quality men’s programs all around, because it does, but as of now, hoops is the cream of the crop for men’s teams. FSU is following up outstanding regular seasons with deep NCAA Tournament runs. For a program that missed the NCAA Tournament in 10 straight seasons from 1998-99 to 2007-08, that’s pretty remarkable.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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