UPDATE: Seminoles will be No. 2 seed in ACC basketball tournament
The Florida State men's basketball team could have clinched its second straight regular-season ACC championship two different ways on Saturday.
The 11th-ranked Seminoles went 0-for-2.
First, they were stunned by Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., 83-73. And then they watched Virginia cruise to an 68-58 victory at Louisville.
With the win, the Cavs improved to 17-6 overall and 13-4 in the ACC. The Seminoles trounced UVA in the teams' lone matchup this season, but they will finish second in the conference with an 11-4 mark (15-5 overall).
Because teams played uneven schedules this season due to COVID-19, the league title was determined by conference winning percentage.
As the No. 2 seed, FSU will play Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET in the ACC quarterfinals at Greensboro, N.C.
Florida State's hopes of winning a second consecutive ACC regular-season title have not completely vanished, but the Seminoles will need some help later this afternoon.
After getting upset at Notre Dame in the early game Saturday, 83-73, No. 11 FSU will need Virginia to lose at Louisville in the 4 p.m. ET game to clinch the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament. If the Cavaliers win, Florida State will be the No. 2 seed.
Playing their final game of the regular season, the Seminoles got off to a terrible start at South Bend, Ind. They trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half and could never get closer than four points down the stretch.
With the loss, FSU falls to 15-5 overall and 11-4 in the ACC. Notre Dame improves to 10-14 and 7-11.
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton gave credit to Notre Dame for using an offensive approach that has given the Seminoles trouble all season. Instead of playing their post players near the basket, they positioned them on the perimeter, and the Irish then would either drive to the basket for layup attempts, draw fouls or kick out for 3-pointers.
In the first half, the Irish hit all three targets. They connected on 7 of 18 3-pointers, 12 of 14 free throws, and they outscored the much bigger Seminoles in the paint, 14-10.
The result was a 47-31 halftime advantage, as Florida State's offense could never seem to get on track in the early going. The Seminoles hit just 3 of 11 shots from beyond the arc in the first half, and they recorded just only two assists to go with nine turnovers.
"They really did a great job of executing," Hamilton said of the Irish. "I thought they moved the ball, made the extra pass. They attacked the basket when they did drive very aggressively."
Despite the huge deficit, FSU's players rallied in the second half. Hamilton went with a smaller lineup -- leaving starting center Balsa Koprivica and top backup Tanor Ngom on the bench -- and it worked for the most part.
The Seminoles controlled the action for most of the second half and cut the deficit to 74-70 with 2:30 remaining on a 3-pointer by Anthony Polite. But the Seminoles could never get any closer and fell to 3-4 on the road for the year.
"I just thought Notre Dame did a better job of playing to their strengths," Hamilton said. "And they exploited our weaknesses."
Junior forward RaiQuan Gray, who recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, also gave Notre Dame credit but said the Seminoles have themselves to blame. He said the focus wasn't where it needed to be on defense.
The Irish had lost their last four games before upsetting the Seminoles.
"I told you guys before -- a couple games back -- when we're focused and locked in on the scouting report and executing it, that we're the best team in the country," Gray said. "Tonight, we didn't execute the game plan. We weren't locked in for a full 40 minutes, so we came out with a loss."
FSU was led offensively by Scottie Barnes with 17 points, Gray with 15 and Sardaar Calhoun with 12. Guard Prentiss Hubb led the Irish with 22, and four other Irish players scored in double-figures.
Next up for the Seminoles will be the ACC Tournament next week in Greensboro, N.C.
FSU will learn its seeding when it arrives back in Tallahassee later this afternoon.
"Hopefully when we land, we'll have a Christmas present in March," Hamilton said with a laugh.
Gray said the Seminoles certainly will be watching to see what happens in the Virginia game, but he added that whatever happens won't erase the frustrations from their performance at Notre Dame.
"We didn't want it to get to that point," the junior forward said. "We wanted to control what we could control. ... We wanted to win our way. Finish our way and not have somebody else do our job for us."