When: Monday 9:30pm
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
How to Watch: BD Global Sports will be live-streaming the game here
Clemson basketball has given us about what was expected so far by taking care of a couple weaker mid-major teams that haven't matched up well in either size or talent. The bout with the Minutemen of UMass should be their biggest test so far this season.
Meet UMass: UMass is a member of the surprisingly stout Atlantic 10 conference. Last year was a bit of a disappointment for the Minutemen, and they are looking to bounce back this year strong with a run at an NCAA Tournament. Despite losing three of their top four scorers from last year, UMass has taken care of business against Central Arkansas, Howard, and a Harvard program that's been a regular attender of the NCAA tourney as of late. The key to beating UMass will be slowing down Senior PG Jabarie Hinds. Hinds was a transfer from West Virginia who didn't produce quite like expected last year, but has been a force for them so far this season. He's averaging 22 ppg and shooting 47% from three. The three-point shot is something UMass employs quite regularly in their offensive gameplan. They just recently tied a program record hitting 16 three-pointers in their game against Central Arkansas. Their 2nd and 3rd leading scorers, guards Trey Davis and Donte Clark, are also dangerous from behind the arc and will be important to stop. UMass also matches up well size-wise with Clemson with 6-7 wing Zach Coleman, 6-8 big man Seth Berger, and the 6-11 Freshman Rashaan Holloway.
Preview: KenPom gives us a 79% shot to win this game, which seems a bit high but makes sense given how the advanced metrics have liked us so far this season. We're ranked number 40 team overall by KenPom. I predict a 68-60 victory, but I would not be surprised to see a higher-scoring affair or a Clemson loss.
This game should tell us a bit about what Brownell's plans are with this team defensively and clarify some other questions we've had about this team so far. Stopping the barrage from three that UMass can put on will be paramount to success in the game. How much zone will we be playing? Will Avry Holmes be able to slow down Hinds in man-to-man? Will Blossomgame and Grantham be able to keep up the scoring pace against stiffer competition? Can Landry Nnoko stay out of foul trouble? Ok... we probably already know the answer to that last one, but you never know. With Sidy Djitte playing the way he's been playing, Nnoko picking up fouls may not be the worst thing for us this year. Nevertheless, expect to see some of the questions you have about this team answered in this game. Although early in the season and in a backseat position to the football game later in the week. The two games played at this tournament should be much more helpful than the previous two in assessing just what this team may be capable of this year.
Tune in to this one and be a part of the conversation right here in the comment thread.