If you had told me in mid-November that Clemson would host a conference game against a top-10 squad, I would have assumed the opponent would be Duke or maybe NC State. Not Miami.
If you had told me that Miami-a team that lost to something called St. Leo's in its exhibition game and lost to Florida Freaking Gulf Coast in a real live contest-would come into its game at Littlejohn with a perfect 11-0 conference record and a top 3 national ranking, I would have called you crazy. But you would have been right.
This will be the 2nd time this season that a top-10 team rolls into Tigertown. Back on December 8th, Arizona made the cross-country trip and came away with a 12-point victory. Interestingly enough, just two weeks later, Arizona beat Miami by 19 in Hawaii.
This game features a very stark contrast in terms of player experience. Whereas Clemson has just two upperclassmen on the roster, five of Miami's top six guys are seniors. They are one of the oldest teams in the entire country. And the lone exception in that six-man group is sophomore Shane Larkin, who is shooting 44% from beyond the arc this season and is a viable All-ACC First Team candidate.
Larkin's buddies in the backcourt, Durand Scott and Trey McKinney Jones aren't shabby shooters either. Scott shoots 34% from beyond the arc and is the Canes' leading scorer at 14 ppg, and Jones shoots a very solid 37% from downtown.
The Hurricanes have three big, big bodies in Julian Gamble (6-10, 250), Kenny Kadjii (6-11, 240), and Reggie Johnson (6-10, 290). All three are good shot blockers, and Gamble leads the team with 43, which is a very solid number considering K.J. McDaniels has 51 blocks on the year.
Hopefully our Tigers can make this one interesting. We gave Arizona a run back in December, but ultimately fell apart at the end. We've only got one more realistic chance at a marquee win after this one, (vs. UNC on February 28th) so hopefully Devin, Milton, and the rest make the most of it.
This one tips off at 6 on ESPNU.