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2014-15 Clemson Basketball Season Preview: Schedule Evaluation and Season Projections

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We broke down the Clemson's roster in the previous season preview article, now we'll discuss the schedule and our expectations for how the Tigers will navigate through it.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Day Date Opponent Location Time TV
Friday
14-Nov Florida A&M Clemson, S.C. 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Mon,
17-Nov Winthrop Clemson, S.C. 7:00 p.m. RSN
Friday
21-Nov Gardner-Webb St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 1:30 p.m.
Saturday
22-Nov TBA St. Thomas, Virgin Islands TBA
Sunday
23-Nov TBA St. Thomas, Virgin Islands TBA
Monday
24-Nov TBA St. Thomas, Virgin Islands TBA
Friday
28-Nov High Point Clemson, S.C. 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Monday
1-Dec Rutgers Clemson, S.C. 7:00 p.m. ESPNU
Sunday
7-Dec Arkansas Clemson, S.C. 5:00 p.m. ESPNU
Sunday
14-Dec Auburn Clemson, S.C. 4:00 p.m. ESPN3
Friday
19-Dec South Carolina at Columbia, S.C. 7:00 p.m. SECN
Monday
22-Dec Oakland Clemson, S.C. 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Tuesday
30-Dec Robert Morris Clemson, S.C. 7:00 p.m. ESPN3
Saturday
3-Jan North Carolina Clemson, S.C. TBA ESPN
Wednesday
7-Jan Louisville at Louisville, Ky. 9:00 p.m. ACCN
Saturday
10-Jan Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh, Pa. 12:00 p.m. RSN
Tuesday
13-Jan Virginia at Charlottesville, Va. 8:00 p.m. ACCN
Saturday
17-Jan Syracuse Clemson, S.C. 4:00 p.m. ACCN
Monday
19-Jan Florida State Clemson, S.C. 9:00 p.m. ESPNU
Saturday
24-Jan Wake Forest Clemson, S.C. 12:00 p.m. ACCN
Wednesday
28-Jan NC State at Raleigh, N.C. 9:00 p.m. ACCN
Saturday
31-Jan Boston College Clemson, S.C. 12:00 p.m. RSN
Wednesday
4-Feb Florida State at Tallahassee, Fla. 9:00 p.m. RSN
Sunday
8-Feb Miami at Coral Gables, Fla. 6:30 p.m. ESPNU
Tuesday
10-Feb Notre Dame Clemson, S.C. 7:00 p.m. ESPN2
Saturday
14-Feb Virginia Tech Clemson, S.C. 12:00 p.m. RSN
Monday
16-Feb Georgia Tech at Atlanta, Ga. 7:00 p.m. ESPNU
Saturday
21-Feb Duke at Durham, N.C. 4:00 p.m. ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday
28-Feb Georgia Tech Clemson, S.C. 12:00 p.m. ACCN
Tuesday
3-Mar NC State Clemson, S.C. 9:00 p.m. RSN
Saturday
7-Mar Notre Dame at Notre Dame, Ind. 4:00 p.m. ACCN

This year, Clemson has 17 home games (last year there were only 16). They will participate in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas and then they'll begin ACC play by running a gauntlet of UNC, Louisville, Pitt, UVA, and Syracuse.

The non-conference slate is relatively light. Staying consistent with our definition from the Clemson Basketball: The resume article (KenPom top 50 teams at home, top 60 in a neutral site, top 75 on the road), there is only one opportunity to notch a quality non-conference win - at home versus Arkansas. KenPom rankings/projections early in the season have to be taken with a grain of salt, but they're still useful for these purposes, and they have Clemson favored in all but one non-conference game - at South Carolina.

A 12-1 record coming out of non-conference wouldn't be bad, but the goal here really should be a perfect 13-0. Arkansas is the only quality opponent Clemson faces. You can throw in Auburn since they have Bruce Pearl and they beat Clemson last season as well as LSU if they happen to play in the Paradise Jam. South Carolina is only tricky because they come in Columbia, but Clemson should dominate them in basketball annually and a loss there is unacceptable. It will be hard for Clemson to reach 13-0 as Auburn showed us last season, but it's a reasonable goal given the schedule. 12-1 wouldn't be devastated, but 11-2 would likely include at least one very bad loss, which the Tigers cannot afford, because the ACC schedule is just plain Nasty.

Clemson begins the ACC slate with one of the most brutal stretches I've ever seen. It begins with North Carolina coming to Littlejohn Coliseum and it followed by a three- game road trip to Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Virginia. Finally the Stretch 'O Death concludes with Syracuse. Holy cow!

If Clemson can win even just one of those five, they'll have a good shot to find their way back to a .500 ACC-record by the end of the season. In addition to FSU and GT, Notre Dame and NC State are the teams that Clemson will play home and road in 2014-15. They'll play GT twice in a 12-day span.

Although the opening stretch is especially brutal, if this team can enter it with 12 or 13 wins and steal just one in that stretch, then the ACC schedule really opens up and present an opportunity to make a run at 20-wins.

I expect the ACC to be stronger than last season. As such, repeating last year's 10-8 record and 6th place standing may be slightly out of reach, especially without K.J. McDaniels. That said, Landry Nnoko showed great progress throughout last season and can be one of the better true centers in the conference. Blossomgame seems ready to make strides with an improved jump shoot after a healthy offseason, Rod Hall has developed into a leader and clutch performer. Harrison began to emerge as a legitimate scoring threat towards the end of last season and Gabe DeVoe and Donte Grantham join the team to help in the effort. As such, 12 to 13 non-conference wins to go with eight to nine conference wins for a 20-11 record (a one game improvement from last year's 19-11 record) should be viewed as a success. It would likely get Clemson into the top nine in the ACC standings, earning them a first round bye and give them a chance to play their way into the NCAA tournament with a run in the ACC tournament.

Expectations and Predictions from Jay Ingles:

This could come back to bite me, but I really believe this is an NCAA Tournament team. Losing a player like K.J. McDaniels is never a positive, but I think things may actually run more smoothly on offense without Clemson trying to force the ball to him and having him try to create. The highlight dunks and blocks are things that simply aren't replaceable, but Jaron Blossomgame, Donte Grantham and even Austin Ajukwa, to some extent, are similar athletes who can chip in to do a lot of the other things McDaniels did.

I think Rod Hall will provide leadership, and Landry Nnoko should take another huge step toward becoming a great post player, while there should be enough outside shooting threats to keep defenses honest. This team is still athletic enough to excel on the defensive end. There isn't a non-conference game on the schedule the Tigers shouldn't win, but getting to the conference slate with even just one loss would put them in decent position. The early ACC schedule is brutal, but if Clemson can simply keep morale up after that opening five-game stretch, there will be an opportunity to rip off some wins and make a push. Above all else, I'm confident Brad Brownell will get the most out of what he has, and I think that just might be good enough to sneak into the Big Dance with a win or two in the ACC tournament.