Clemson Opens up ACC Play Against Florida State

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

For the second season in a row, the Seminoles travel to Littlejohn in early January for both teams' ACC opener.

Last season the Tigers were able to score a blowout upset win over the ‘Noles despite early season struggles against the likes of Coastal Carolina and The College of Charleston. The Tigers have struggled again in non-conference play this season, as we again lost to Coastal and also lost to a Purdue squad that later put up just 44 points in a loss to Eastern Michigan.

But the Tigers' hopes for a second consecutive ACC opening win against the Seminoles are a real possibility, due in large part to Florida State having early-season struggles of their own. The ‘Noles were picked to finish 4th in the ACC in the preseason media poll and were also included in the preseason top 25. But they struggled in non-conference play, losing to South Alabama, Mercer and Auburn in addition to suffering a blowout loss to rival Florida.

The Seminoles are led by senior sharpshooter Michael Snaer, who is shooting a hot 41% from 3. Brownell could stick Rod Hall on Snaer to slow him down, but solving FSU's outside shooting probably won't be that easy, as Snaer isn't the only guy with a good-looking stroke from downtown. Fellow guard Terry Whisnant III is also shooting 41% for the season, and even big man Okaro White has the ability to join the party, with his 43.8 shooting percentage from 3 this year.

The Tigers reacted well to the beat down in Conway with blowout wins over SC State and The Citadel. But this matchup will be the Tiger's first against a living, breathing team since the Coastal debacle. Hopefully Adonis Filer can stay on his recent hot streak, but the Tigers as a team have been way too streaky from outside lately, and I don't think that tossing up a bunch of 3's is the way to win this game. We beat FSU in Littlejohn last year by attacking the paint early and often; hopefully we can see KJ, Booker, and Milton at their best in this one.

The Tigers have a realistic shot at winning this game. It's a big game for this young team. Win, and you erase the memories of the loss to Coastal and build some confidence for the rest of the conference season. Lose, and you start out in an 0-2 conference hole after also losing at Duke.

Game tips at 4 on RSN.

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