Clemson's NCAA Tournament chances took a serious shot after a 60-57 loss to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday afternoon. Clemson has not faired well on the road this year, with only 2 victories on other opponents home courts. (Syracuse and Wake Forest) Clemson will return to the friendly confines of the Bon Secours Wellness Arena only 48 hours after a road ACC loss to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Clemson will face Notre Dame for only the fourth time in program history, and is looking for their first victory. Notre Dame swept the Tigers in two games last season and defeated the Tigers in South Bend in a thrilling double-overtime contest in the two team's first meeting in 2013-14.
Clemson will certainly be looking to maintain its home away from home court advantage where they have won 5 straight ACC contests. While all 7 of Notre Dame's losses are against quality opponents, 4 of the 7 have come on the road including a road game at the end of January where they were outmatched by the Syracuse Orange.
While former Tiger killer Jerami Grant has moved on to the NBA, his shoes have been more than adequately filled by Junior Demetrius Jackson who leads the Fighting Irish in both points per game (16.1) and assists per game (5.1). Notre Dame certainly has the momentum coming in to Monday nights contest after knocking off #2 North Carolina were Jackson scored a co-team high 19.
Saturday afternoon marked the first time in many games where Clemson Center Landry Nnoko stayed out of foul trouble, and his statistics show just how important it is to have Nnoko on the floor as he finished with a near triple-double dropping 17 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks. Nnoko did shy away from some near the rim contact, but the lack of foul trouble could be due to a lack of size by the Hokies. This will not be the case tomorrow night as Notre Dame will feature forwards Zach Auguste and Bonzie Colson that will press to pick up fouls on Nnoko. He will have to play tough interior defense and stay out of foul trouble for Clemson to pull out a victory.
Jaron Blossomgame became the first Tiger since Horace Grant to score 5 straight 20 point games in ACC play, but the streak was snapped Saturday afternoon as Virginia Tech frequently denied Blossomgame and forced the Tigers to beat them with someone else. Shakin the Southland is very familiar with Blossomgame's competitive personality, and I do not expect Notre Dame to be able to deny him the way that Virginia Tech was able to. Look for Blossomgame to return to his 20 point ways on Monday night.
Game Note: With 8 blocks against Virginia Tech, Landry Nnoko has 197 career blocks, needing only 3 to become the sixth player in Clemson history to record 200 blocks.
Be sure to tune in to ESPNU at 9pm for a late night tip off and to check out Shakin the Southlands live game thread to discuss what is happening during the game. (We love your comments and analysis. Keep it up!)