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The Early Lead
Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 01/23/2012

Is Florida State the ACC’s best team after victory at Duke?


Leonard Hamilton has Florida State winning big ACC games. (Gerry Broome / AP)

The ACC may lack depth and overall strength this season, but the race at the top of the standings has become quite interesting now that Florida State owns victories over North Carolina and Duke.

Seminoles Coach Leonard Hamilton has taken his shots over the years because of the perception that he is a better recruiter than he is a coach. Give him his due for keeping these Seminoles on track after an inauspicious start to the season that included losses to Harvard - no shame in that --- Princeton and Clemson. FSU does not play UNC again and will play Duke in Tallahassee on Feb. 23.

The Seminoles (13-6, 4-1 ACC) have played the nation’s fifth-toughest schedule. As usual, they are among the stingiest defensive teams in the country. They rank fourth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (36.7 percent); sixth in three-point percentage defense (26.6. percent); and eighth in shots blocked per game (6.6).

The ACC looks like a four- or five-bid league this season. North Carolina, Florida State, Duke and Virginia are all in good shape to earn NCAA tournament berths. North Carolina State is in best position to be the fifth team, but its position is more tenuous.

What else mattered this weekend:


Baylor guard Pierre Jackson (55) goes up for a shot as Missouri center Steve Moore (32) defends. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)
Missouri 89, Baylor 88: The Bears have the frontcourt talent and overall depth to be better than the team two years ago that was a good second-half performance from beating Duke in the Elite Eight in Houston. But it was Missouri that beat a top-five team on the road for the first time since 1994. The hiring of Frank Haith was widely panned last spring. How does it look now?

Notre Dame 67, Syracuse 58: This is an unusual year in the Big East because perennial frontrunners Villanova and Pittsburgh are down and Connecticut has been inconsistent at best. And on Saturday, Notre Dame earned its eighth victory all-time against a No. 1 team by beating a Syracuse team playing without shot-blocking center Feb Melo.

More from Washington Post Sports

Maryland coverage at Terrapins Insider

Virginia coverage at Cavaliers Journal

Virginia Tech coverage at Hokies Journal

By  |  10:44 AM ET, 01/23/2012

 
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