When: Sunday 1:00pm
TV: ACC Network
Overview: Before I get into the overview for this game, I want to take the opportunity to express my unbridled joy that Maryland is departing the ACC. I for one will not miss their ridiculous color schemes and uniform changes and will certainly not miss their fans. Of all the road trips I have taken over the years for football and basketball, the worst experience by far was going to College Park in 2001. Any Tiger fan that might have been in Byrd Stadium that day could attest to how bad it got with the Twerp fans and students. Another trip I took to Greensboro for the ACC tourney during the Steve Francis era had me actually pulling for the Tarholes to win the game against them due to how the Twerp fans were acting. I wish them nothing but continued financial ruin and misery in their new conference and hope the ACC collects every dime of that exit fee.
Now onto the game. Clemson is coming off a hugely disappointing loss at Wake Forest that did perhaps irreparable damage to its NCAA tourney chances. The fat lady has not sung on that yet, but she can be heard warming up the pipes in the back room as the Tigers enter this game. Maryland offers a chance to get what would be the highest RPI rated victory since the FSU win and both are fighting it out in hopes of getting to the 5 spot. Maryland is a talented team and will offer some unique challenges to Clemson in this contest. It is now imperative that Clemson win its remaining games and probably two in the ACC tourney to punch a ticket to the Big Dance. Maryland has had some serious near misses that would have put them in great shape going into tomorrow, but a last second rim out at Duke and 2 point loss to Syracuse have them reeling just a bit and wondering what if?
The Twerps, like 70% of the ACC, feature a more talented roster overall than the Tigers do. They have a quality guard in Dez Wells who is capable of putting up a 30 point night if he gets it going. On the inside they have a big bodied presence in Charles Mitchell who is generously listed at 260 pounds. Mitchell is an atrocious free throw shooter (33%), however, and that has forced Mark Turgeon to limit his minutes in tight games. Mitchell does have some nice touch around the rim and was the guy who took the pivotal last shot at Duke that just rimmed out and saved the Blue Devils. At the 4 is versatile Evan Smotrycz who is a capable 3 point shooter at 35%. Seth Allen and Jake Layman are both just under 40% from downtown as well, so the Tigers will need to do a good job of contesting on the perimeter. The X factor for Maryland might be the mercurial Nick Faust who has flashed some brilliance at times but has done a vanishing act in others. Example A would be his last two outings when he followed up a 20 point outburst in a win against Wake Forest only to score a measly 5 points and missing every 2 and 3 point attempt he took. Let's hope Faust is MIA on Sunday.
It has been hard to predict how these matchups with the teams fighting it out in the middle tier will go. No team has been able to put enough of a win streak together to separate itself from the others. Clemson missed a golden chance at doing just that with blowing the game in Winston-Salem. It will be imperative for the team to not allow that to lead to a hangover of sorts on Sunday. Maryland is very dangerous if it can get off to a good start and gain confidence.
The Achilles Heel of the Twerps might be turning the ball over where they rank 238th in TO percentage according to KenPom. Clemson, as always, will rely first upon its defense to dictate things. Getting some turnovers and finding some easy scores on the other end will go a long way in securing a victory. Clemson must also take better care of the ball than they did at Wake when the sloppiness in the first half allowed a reeling Deacon squad to stay in the game. Looking back at that one, I know Brownell and staff were livid that the lead wasn't 15 or more at the half, which very well could have buried the Deacs. I look for Maryland to try to attack Nnoko inside with Mitchell early because getting him off the floor with fouls drastically changes what Clemson can do on both ends. Landry needs to be smart, especially if he gets one early. His foolish foul to start the second half against Wake really killed Clemson. He was in a bad position and should have just allowed the score and lived to fight another day, instead he weakly fouled and promptly had to ride the pine for a good portion of the second half. K.J. McDaniels is hopefully 100% after hurting his elbow in the Wake game and ready for a big time bounce back performance from what was an uncharacteristically poor outing. We look for DeMarcus Harrison to continue the good work of the last couple of week as his confidence is clearly growing by the game.
Hopefully the fans and students will be out in good number for this pivotal contest. Clemson is in very good shape to secure a good seed in the NIT and host a game or two. If nothing else, the slim chance at the NCAA tourney hangs in the balance as one more loss would require winning the ACC tourney to get a bid. The baseball team's epic failures against Coot U have stung this weekend, and helping the basketball team deliver a crushing loss to the Twerps in perhaps their last trip to Clemson ever would help mitigate that disappointment to a degree. If there is a team worthy of the hatred usually reserved for USuC, it would be Maryland, in this writer's opinion.
KenPom gives us a 66% chance of victory as Maryland comes in ranked one spot behind the Tigers in that ranking (52).