When: Saturday at 12pm
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum
I have pondered a way to summarize my thoughts about what happened against Florida State on Monday night. This is what I came up with...
Yep, it was an epic failure as the team totally flushed all the positive vibes from the Syracuse win down the toilet by losing miserably to a Seminole squad that had lost four straight league games coming in. I guess the only silver lining in all of this is the team tends to play much better coming off laying an egg. I know this, should the team shoot it well and look fluid on offense, I will instantly predict a brick-fest for the following contest.
Overview: These are the games the Tigers simply have to win. When you draw the folks at the bottom end of the conference on your home floor, a loss is like 2 losses really. Now the Tigers not only have to win this game and the others like it, but they also have to find a way to steal one on the road to offset the FSU game. This only matters if the postseason is something you fancy as a program, which at times seems iffy for the Tigers. I thought the loss of K.J. McDaniels took the team from NCAA likely to NIT likely, but now the NIT seems like a stretch for sure. Meanwhile, Wake Forest is still trying to find itself under new coach Danny Manning as it attempts to recover from the disastrous Jeff Bzdelik era. The Deacs had to play UNC on Wednesday night and got beat badly. Wake is now 1-5 in the league and 9-10 overall. Though they are very similar to what FSU was record wise, they are a totally different style of team and this will be a very different looking game on Saturday. Let's just hope part of the difference is Clemson appearing to know how to shoot a free throw or guard the dribble drive.
Meet the Deacons: It's all about the junior class for the Demon Deacons. The man who makes it all happen for them is guard Codi Miller-McIntyre. When he's on, he's dangerous and presents some of the same problems that Rathan-Mayes from FSU did. Wake favors an uptempo style and it will be very important for Clemson to dictate the tempo and contain the basketball on defense much better than in the FSU game.
The inside threat for Wake is Devin Thomas who is averaging nearly a double double at 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Wake as a team is a strong rebounding squad ranking 19th in the country, so winning the battle of the boards will be a major key for the Tigers in this game. Where Wake is weak is on defense where they give up 70 points per game (273rd in the land). Some of this is due to tempo and playing higher possession basketball as Ken Pom has Wake's defensive efficiency ranking at 87th. Somehow Wake has a higher Ken Pom ranking than Clemson despite a lesser record and no notable wins. Their one ACC win was against GT who is winless in the league.
KenPom gives the Tigers a 64% chance of victory (lower than we had going into FSU). Clemson must win this game or the season really will look bleak (as if it already doesn't). Let's get a pep talk from Dr. Cox.