In some ways, putting together a men’s basketball schedule has never been easier for Florida State associate head coach Stan Jones.
There are 20 conference games that are out of his hands, as well as the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Then there’s the annual showdown with Florida, the yearly Orange Bowl Classic game, and then an early season tournament that features three games as well.
So, in reality, he only has to fill four to five open dates on the schedule.
But just because it’s easier to do, that by no means translates to an easier slate. Not by a long shot. The Seminoles, once again, will have one of the toughest schedules in the country.
“I’m with you on that,” Jones said with a laugh. “You can quote yourself on that.”
As part of the 20-game ACC schedule, Florida State actually plays its first conference game on Dec. 4 at home against Syracuse.
The Seminoles don’t play another conference game until Dec. 29 at Boston College, followed by a Jan. 1 game at N.C. State and then a Jan. 4 game at Wake Forest.
So that’s three straight ACC road games following that early December tilt against the Orange.
“That’s what they gave us,” Jones said. “Everybody’s got to play (a conference game) early. That’s the dynamics of playing that many conference games. … And they did that to fill all those ACC Network time slots.”
Also included in that conference slate are home games against Louisville, Duke, Notre Dame and the annual home-and-home games with Miami and Clemson.
There are also road games at perennial powers Duke, North Carolina and Virginia.
None of those, of course, are controlled by Florida State.
And as was pointed out earlier, not much of the non-conference schedule was all that flexible either.
The Seminoles have scheduled Penn to start the season and also have Lipscomb and North Florida coming to the Tucker Center, as well as Tulane. Boston University will also be in Tallahassee as part of the three-game Jacksonville Classic tournament, which also features neutral-site games against Loyola-Marymount and either SMU or Missouri in Jacksonville.
The Seminoles will play South Carolina in Rock Hill, S.C., as part of the No Room for Racism Classic in December.
“I hope our fans evaluate it the right way,” Jones said. “I mean, all these [non-conference] teams are pretty good teams. Even Lipscomb is a team that’s always going to give you a hard game. North Florida is a tough team because they shoot so many 3s. You’re never just going to run away and pound them.”
It’s not an impossible schedule. But it’s certainly not a breeze either.
The Seminoles have challenged themselves in the non-conference games, because they know they have yet another challenging ACC schedule.
“We’re going to test our kids and help them get ready for conference play,” Jones said.