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Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Florida State Basketball Will Make The NCAA Tournament

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5 Reasons Florida State Basketball Will Make The Big Dance

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Phil Sears- USA TODAY Sports

The year 2014 has not been all that kind to the Florida State Seminoles. It was the beginning of ACC play that initiated those struggles.

After weathering an arduous non-conference schedule with games against the likes of Florida, Michigan and Virginia Commonwealth, the Seminoles (16-11, 7-8 ACC) have struggled to put more than three consecutive wins together in conference play.

But the Seminoles may already have done enough to make the month of March a little bit better. FSU has found its way onto the NCAA tournament bubble with road wins over Pittsburgh and Clemson, coupled with its success in its demanding non-conference games where it picked up wins over Massachusetts and VCU.

That the Seminoles are even on the bubble at this point of the season is a bit of a surprise. A month ago, they were reeling with three straight losses to Duke, North Carolina State and Clemson. Yet, the Seminoles still have a fighting chance of making the NCAA tournament if the dominoes fall as planned.

The Seminoles' next game is against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Sunday before facing Boston College on Tuesday. The biggest opportunities for the Seminoles to make some noise will be against Syracuse in their last game of the season, or after winning a game or two in the ACC Tournament. There's still work for the Seminoles to do in the coming weeks, but the opportunity to make it to the NCAA tournament is theirs for the taking.

Here are the reasons Florida State will be showing up on your NCAA Tournament bracket in March.

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5. Games Against the Bottom of the Barrel

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The Seminoles have three games left to play in the regular season, two of which are against a team in the bottom three of the standings in the ACC. If FSU is able to take care of business against Georgia Tech and Boston College, it will likely have at least two opportunities to pick up NCAA-tournament clinching wins. The first against Syracuse on March 9.

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4. The Play of Ian Miller

Ian Miller
Melina Vastola- USA TODAY Sports

Every team has a player they rely upon to come up big when it matters most, and Florida State's guy, Ian Miller, is heating up at the appropriate time. The Seminoles' senior leader is averaging 22 points over his team's last three days. Provided he can keep performing big in crucial games, Miller will be the driving force in putting FSU in a good position to play in March Madness.

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3. Battle-Tested

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Melina Vastola- USA TODAY Sports

The Seminoles have played in nines games decided by five points or fewer. FSU has proven it can hang with the big dogs, going toe-to-toe with the nation's current No. 1 Florida in a one-point loss, and letting a 16-point lead slip away against Big 10 front runner Michigan. Florida State has made itself clear that it will not fold against quality opponents in its marquee matchups down the stretch.

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2. Strength of Schedule

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Phil Sears- USA TODAY Sports

FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton out together a gauntlet of a non-conference schedule that will only work in his team's favor when the selection committee fills out the bracket. Hamilton scheduled the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which led to matchups against Virginia Commonwealth and Michigan, in addition to Florida and Atlantic 10 elite UMass. It is currently the 41st most difficult out-of-conference schedule in the nation.

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1. Wins Against Tournament Locks and Bubble Teams

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Florida State's win over Pittsburgh was probably its biggest victory of the season. With its back up against the wall, FSU went on the road and picked up the must-win. The Seminoles also picked up wins over VCU and UMass when both were ranked in the Top 25. FSU's only truly detrimental loss came to Miami on Feb. 3.