That's right, we get to break off that classic Pete Gillen reset (set your clock to it, Clem v Duke here). I have a couple general thoughts about tonights game and encourage you're favorite Gillen impression. This will also serve as the Duke gamethread.
Clemson's trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium will be a tough one. Duke enters this contest ranked #4 nationally in both major polls. The Tigers have not won at Duke since '95 and will play in a rowdy environment. Duke is coming off of a nationally televised upset loss at Virginia Tech last Saturday and needs a couple big wins to have any shot at a national #1 seed in the tourney. Clemson is on the other end of the spectrum. The Tigers have given away games that should have been won and now will not make the Big Dance without a strong showing this week and throughout the ACC Tourney.
We'll be watching a couple general items, as shown here:
Clemson Defense vs Duke's Offense
The Blue Devils average well over 80 points per game on offense. Clemson gives up right at 60 ppg on the season. Something will have to give. Can Clemson stymie the Duke offense to keep this game relatively low scoring? Clemson will not win if Duke approaches their average point output.
Clemson's Poise in a Hostile Environment
Can this team keep it together? Playing against a Top 5 team is tough, but playing against a Top 5 team at Cameron is an especially tall order. We are eager to see if this squad can adjust to the big game atmosphere and avoid being overwhelmed. Also of note, this is Coach Brownell's first head coaching appearance at Duke, so we'll watch his reaction as well.
Clemson's Ability to Absorb a Duke Run
The Tigers have gotten down early in several games this season and have fought back. We all know that Duke will put together a run at some point Wednesday night. Clemson has to be able to take Duke's best shot without getting knocked out of the game.
Overall, Clemson gets Duke on the heels of a big loss at VT. Duke cannot afford to lose another game if it wants to wrap up a #1 seed in the NCAA's. These two items combined with the home court advantage and the fact that the Blue Devils are flat out much better than Clemson doesn't provide much optimism...but I guess that is why they play the game.