When: 9 pm Wed.
I know it is hard for many to pay attention to the basketball team while football is still going strong, but the Tigers host a Power 5 foe in the ACC/Big10 challenge Wednesday night. The Tigers laid eggs the last two years in this event and needs a good showing here if they want to make March a relevant month. Clemson is coming off an uneven showing versus High Point where they allowed an overmatched opponent to hang around and make it interesting. The senior front line of Sidy Djitte and Jaron Blossomgame have been stellar the last two games, but the guard play has been inconsistent. The mercurial Donte Grantham continues to show flashes of what made him a highly rated prospect but has also put up some poor offensive efforts as well. He continues to rely a little too much on the three point shot and is only hitting 26% from 3 so far. I'd like to see him attack the rim and get to the line more frequently where he has been very good the last two seasons.
As for guard play, Sheldon Mitchell is getting worked back into the mix coming off the knee injury that set him back. His return gives Coach Brownell much more flexibility among his key perimeter guys Holmes, DeVoe, and Reed. It will be interesting to see if Mitchell is a bigger factor against the Huskers than he was in just 12 minutes of action vs. High Point. It is my hope he will not only add playmaking to the point position but also better perimeter defense from a team that has struggled by Brownell’s lofty defensive standards. This team can score better than any previous Brownell team but has to get closer to the defensive prowess the program was built on if the NCAA Tourney is going to happen. The Cluckers down the road have gotten into the top 25 with some suffocating defensive efforts lately. Clemson won't be able to just rely on scoring to beat teams like that.
Nebraska comes in having just lost to Clemson rival Virginia Tech 66-53. VT is a team I am monitoring closely as they are one of those teams Clemson will battle for a top 8 finish in the ACC. The Huskers were competitive in losses to VT and UCLA and have a good win over Dayton on their resume, so this could be a tough game despite the low preseason expectations for Nebraska. Tai Webster has been great so far for the Huskers putting up 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting a smoking 45% from 3. He has posted a very impressive offensive efficiency rating of 122.2. Clemson will have to keep him well below that to handle this game. KenPom has Clemson at an 81% win probabilty with a projected 83-74 score. This is a game the Tigers can't afford to lose.