Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Looks for Help in Tourney 'Noles' Goal: An NCAA Top Seed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Looks for Help in Tourney 'Noles' Goal: An NCAA Top Seed

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

TALLAHASSEE -- Its place in the NCAA tournament already assured as one of 16 regional hosts, Florida State opens Atlantic Coast Conference tournament action today hopeful that a strong showing will secure one of the top eight seeds.

"If we play well here, I think our RPI will go up and in turn give us a chance to be one of the top eight [regional] seeds," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "But, we've got to play well here for that to happen.

"This ball club knows there is an awful lot at stake at this tournament."

On the surface that wouldn't appear to be a problem for the Seminoles (40-15, 20-4), who earned the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament after posting the second-best regular season record in league history. But FSU's history in the ACC tournament suggests the next five days at Knight's Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C. will provide quite a test.

The 'Noles, who have never won a league title as the top seed, are the top seed for the fourth time in the last six years. Their only titles came in 1995 and '97, when they finished second in the regular season.

Understanding that by earning one of the top eight seeds for the regional would assure FSU home field advantage for the super regional, providing the 'Noles would advance, Martin is leaving nothing to chance at the ACC tournament.

Junior right-hander Blair Varnes (8-1, 3.61 ERA) will take his normal turn as the No. 1 starter in the rotation when the Seminoles square off against the winner of last night's N.C. State-Maryland play-in game.

Varnes will be pitching on just four days rest, his quickest turnaround in starting assignments this season.

Left-hander Matt Lynch (8-2, 3.20 ERA), FSU's No. 2 starter, is scheduled to get the call tomorrow.

He will likely be followed by No. 3 Robby Read (7-4, 3.73 ERA) on Friday if the 'Noles can stay alive in the double-elimination tournament. …

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