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FSU headed to Big Dance as No. 10 seed

Photo by Philip Jean

Photo by Philip Jean

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State returns to the NCAA Tournament for a third straight year despite the loss of its top player a month ago and a shaky 3-3 finish to end the season.

And the Seminoles are intent on ending a disappointing one-and-done showing in their last two appearances.

Florida State travels to Chicago as the 10th seed in the Southwest Regional for a Friday night date with seventh-seeded Texas A&M (24-8) from the Big XII.

"It really doesn't matter who you are playing, where you are playing, where you are seeded," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said Sunday. "They all are going to be good teams. They all are going to be tough matchups."

Florida State (21-10, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) was bounced out of NCAA postseason play in the first round the last two years -- losing to Wisconsin in 2009 and to Gonzaga last March.

The Seminoles have been without their leading scorer and rebounder, Chris Singleton, the past month. Singleton broke his right foot on Feb. 12 against Virginia and his availability for Friday's game remains uncertain.

Florida State split its last six games without Singleton, who was in uniform but as a spectator for Virginia Tech's dramatic last-minute win over the Seminoles in the ACC tournament quarterfinals when officials ruled Derwin Kitchen's basket at the buzzer was a split second too late.

But the disappointment of Friday's loss to the Hokies was nowhere in sight Sunday when players watched the selection announcement at Hamilton's home. They were excited about going to Chicago -- an easier trip for them than their last two tourney venues in Boise, Idaho and Buffalo, N.Y.

"It's a brand new season for everybody," said Kitchen, a senior making his third straight NCAA tournament trip. "Everybody is 0-0."

Singleton's injury opened the door for freshmen Okaro White and Ian Miller to get more playing time and both have been instrumental in the Seminoles holding serve since losing their star.

Singleton is the lone Seminole averaging double figures this season although Kitchen is at 9.9 points a game.

Florida State's victories over ranked teams came over Duke and Baylor with losses to Butler, Florida, Ohio State and North Carolina. The Seminoles also had an inexplicable loss at Auburn in their final nonconference game in early January, a defeat Hamilton ranks among the most disappointing over his long career.