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Clemson Basketball: North Carolina Central Preview

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The Eagles pose an interesting early season test.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Operation Basketball Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Where: Littlejohn Coliseum

When: Friday, 7pm

TV: ACC Network Extra (Click here to stream)

North Carolina-Central (MEAC Conference)

Current Record: 0-0

Last Season: 19-16

Post Season: First Round NCAA Tournament Loss

Head Coach: Levelle Moton

Projected Starting Lineup

PG - Jordan Perkins - SO.- 6’0, 190 - 8.3 Pts, 5.4 Ast

SG - John Guerra - JR - 6’1, 205 - 3.2 Pts, 0.6 Ast

SG/SF - Reggie Gardner Jr. - SO- 6’2, 175 - 10.8 Pts, 1.6 Ast

PF - Zaccary Douglas - SR - 6’8, 215 - 4.2 Pts, 4.4 Reb

C - Raasean Davis SR. - 6’8, 240 - 15.1 Pts, 8 Reb

Key Reserves

G/F - Larry McKnight - SR. - 6’2, 235 - 5.9 Pts, 2.3 Reb

G/F - Rashann London - SR. - 6’2, 185 - 7.5 Pts, 2.3 Ast (Transfer from Drexel)

F - Jibiri Blount - JR. - 6’5, 225 - 3.8 Pts, 2.3 Reb (Transfer from Cleveland State)

Pace: Slow

Offense: 2 in 3 out

Defense: 3-2 Zone - Passive Half Court Trap Off Made Baskets

Overview

As far a non-conference games against auto-bid conferences go, North Carolina-Central is a tough one. They are two-time defending MEAC Tournament Champs, and have won the MEAC 3 times in the last 5 year. Head Coach Levell Mouton is one of the best players in North Carolina Central History and is entering his 9th season with the Eagles. This is an experienced, well coached team that could ask some early questions of the Tigers.

On defense, they play a shifting 3-2 zone that looks to trap shooters on the wings and make entry passes difficult. This is an unusual look to start the season against, and will test the Tigers ball movement and patience. Clemson needs to work the baseline with their superior athletes and look for easy baskets at the rim against NCC’s back line. Amir Simms could have a huge day if NCC can’t find him on the baseline.

On offense, NCC runs a 2 in 3 out set initially uses their 2 interior players as screens and then they dive to the basket. Getting the ball to Raasean Davis is the focus of the offense and he is going to be a tough cover for the Tigers. Davis is an agile big man who knows his way around the rim and shot an impressive 67% from the field last season. If Elijah Thomas isn’t 100% healthy, Davis could be a problem for the defense. Look for the Tigers to attack Eli Thomas on the offensive end of the court to try and get him out of the game with foul trouble.

Overall

A tough, experienced team like North Carolina Central is the type of squad that Clemson would struggle with in the past. It will be interesting to see how this year’s version of Clemson basketball deals with an early season challenge. I think the Tigers will control the game, but won’t put the scrappy Eagles away until the second half.

Prediction

KenPom: Clemson 81 - NCC 58 (98% win probability)

Drew: Clemson 85 - NCC 68