2017-18 record: 20-11
Projected 2018-19 finish: Eighth in ACC
Season opener: No. 17 FSU vs. UF, 9 p.m., Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee
Notable games: No. 24 Purdue (Nov. 28), at No. 5 Virginia (Jan. 5), Miami (Jan. 9), No. 4 Duke (Jan 12), at No. 22 Clemson (Feb. 19) and at No. 8 UNC (Feb. 23).
Top returning players: Senior forward Phil Cofer (12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) suffered a preseason injury, but FSU hopes to have him back by the heart of ACC play. G Terance Mann (12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg) and center Christ Koumadje (6.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) should be strong leaders who can help a deep and balanced lineup offset the absence of Cofer, the team’s top returning scoring threat.
Others to watch: Guards Trent Forrest and P.J. Savoy and forwards Mfiondu Kabengele and Wyatt Wilkes all play with confidence and are key components of the Seminoles’ balanced roster.
Three keys to success
1. FSU coach Leonard Hamilton believes last year’s team that made a surprising deep NCAA Tournament run actually fell short of expectations and could have reached the Final Four. He wants the talented returning Seminoles to play with the confidence they can contend for a national title.
2. The Seminoles are accustomed to offsetting the absence of key players due to injury, but Cofer was a floor leader and others will need to step up early.
3. FSU’s schedule is brutal, as always. The Seminoles can’t let up during multiple stretches against top-25 teams.
Iliana Limón Romero