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No love for Noles, ACC

Florida State won 22 games overall and finished third in the ACC at 10-6. But the interview room in HSBC Arena was virtually empty for coach Leonard Hamilton's press conference this evening as the media swarmed Syracuse's practice session on the court. Folks all over Buffalo seem to be getting ready for Sunday's expected Gonzaga-Syracuse matchup.

The Seminoles, however, have something to say about that. They enter the opener of Friday's evening session leading the nation in field goal percentage defense at 37.4. But the ACC is getting killed this year by pundits who say it's Duke and nobody else. Florida State was a first-round loser last week in a conference tournament that saw a final four of seeds 1, 7, 10 and 12.

"We've added three additional teams and the gap is narrowing just like it is all over in every league," Hamilton said. "Last year, [North] Carolina just kind of blew through the NCAA Tournament but when you go back and look at the games they played in the ACC, they won a lot of close games throughout the whole year. They had a lot of hard-fought games, games that maybe they won by 12-15 points that were 3-5 points going down the stretch.

"No one then said the league was a great league because the best team -- the team that walked through the NCAA Tournament by large margins -- had a lot of close victories because there's very good basketball teams in the ACC. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you can use stats to come to your own conclusions.

"I don't think there's anything I have to worry about trying to prove. Our league speaks to itself. The whole climate of basketball is changing all over the country. There's a lot of good teams that don't get the exposure."

---Mike Harrington

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