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Basketball Preview: Clemson Tigers at Louisville Cardinals

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Despite reports to the contrary, the basketball season continues, as the Tiger head to Louisville for a noon tip.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Miami-Florida Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Where: KFC Yum! Center (yes, that’s the name of their gym) Louisville, KY

When: Saturday, February 16th, 12 EST

TV: ESPN

Louisville Cardinals

Current Record: 17-8

ACC Record: 8-4

Previous Game: 71-69 loss to Duke in the biggest choke job in recent basketball history

Head Coach: Chris “return of the” Mack

Projected Starting Lineup

C - #5 - Malik Williams - 6’11, 245 - So - 7.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.4 Blk

F - #33 - Jordan Nwora - 6’7, 225 - So - 17.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 39 3pt%

F - #24 - Dwayne Sutton - 6’5, 215 - Jr - 11.2 PPG, 6.9 PRG, 40 3pt%

G - #4 - Khwan Fore - 6’0, 185 - Sr- 3.7 PPG, 1.2 APG, 1.4 RPG

PG - #1 - Christen Cunningham - 6’2, 190 - Sr - 10.2 PPG, 5 APG, 39 3pt%

Key Reserves

C - #23 - Steven Enoch - 6’10, 260 - Jr - 19.2 MinPG, 9.4 PPG, 5 RPG, 46 3pt%

G - #2 - Darius Perry - 6’2, 195 - So - 17.3 MinPG, 5.5 PPG, 1.6 APG

G - #30 Ryan McMahon - 6’0, 180 - Jr - 19 MinPG, 7.8 PPG, 1.8 APG, 37% 3pt%

Advanced Statistics Comparison

Kenpom Ranking

Louisville - 13

Clemson - 30

Adjusted Tempo (NCAA Average 67.6)

Louisville - 66.4 (233 Nationally)

Clemson - 65.5 (283 Nationally)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (NCAA Average 103.7)

Louisville - 116.2 (19)

Clemson - 109.9 (57)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (NCAA Average 103.7)

Louisville - 93.2 (18)

Clemson - 92.6 (15)

Miscellaneous Stats

Offensive Rebounding Percentage (NCAA Average 28.5)

Louisville - 30 (120)

Clemson - 28.2 (187)

Offensive 3 Point Percentage (NCAA Average 34.3)

Louisville - 36.4 (77)

Clemson - 32 (283)

Defensive 2 Point Percentage (NCAA Average)

Louisville - 46.3 (38)

Clemson - 44.4 (17)

Preview

I’m going to make this short and sweet, because it’s a snow day here in Kansas, and I’ve got to make sure my 4 12 year old isn’t trying to burn down the house while I write this article.

I’ve defended this Clemson team more than most people this season, but after the Miami disaster, I’ve reached my limit. If Clemson comes out and plays like it did against Miami they will be laughed off the court. I would like to think with this experienced squad, no showing this game wouldn’t be an option, but who knows with this team.

Clemson on Offense

It’s pretty simple really, if Skara and Simms only contribute 5 points, this game will be ugly. Louisville is big inside and good at defending the basket. Clemson relies on attacking the basket to score because they are mediocre from outside the arc. In theory, Skara and Simms could both help with their shooting ability, but who knows if they’ll decide to show up on the offensive end.

Louisville will do their best to contain Reed with their quick guards and make other Clemson players beat them. Eli Thomas will face two of the bigger, more physical defenders in the ACC in Williams and Enoch. The Tigers will need his scoring to compete, but even when he’s on the floor and not in foul trouble, the Clemson guards tend to ignore him for large swaths of the game while they dribble around the top of the key looking for a low percentage 2 point shot.

Clemson is going to need to shoot a reasonable percentage from deep to have a chance in this game, but after shooting 3-19 against Miami, color me skeptical.

Clemson on Defense

Bad news, Clemson is bad at defending the 3 and Louisville is good at shooting the 3. Look for the Cardinals to play inside out, letting Clemson collapse on post entry passes and drives and then kick out to shooters.

Clemson has been dreadful at identifying shooters and making teams shoot contested 2s to beat them (though they’ve been better lately). If they let Louisville shoot open 3’s they will lose. I would love to see us play straight up man and quit over helping on drives, but at this point in the season, that’s probably a pipe dream.

To compound matters, Williams is just the sort of player that Eli Thomas enjoys fouling. He’s big, strong and plays with an attitude. He’s going to take the ball into Eli’s chest and make Eli play solid post defense with his arms straight up. I don’t see Williams as a threat offensively, but I do see him as a threat to draw fouls on Thomas.

If Eli is in foul trouble all game, I don’t see a path forward for Clemson.

Prediction

I don’t like this match up for Clemson at all. I doubly hate this match up after watching Clemson no show against a bad Miami with everything to play for. I’m not sure if it’s the locker room, the coaching, the players or a combination of all 3 (most likely) but this team just doesn’t look right.

At the same point, Louisville is coming off a crushing defeat to Duke. Normally I would consider that a negative, but Chris Mack is famous for getting his teams to play hard, and I think Louisville will be ready to flush that Duke performance. They’ve had four days off to recover, while Clemson is on a two day road turn around.

KenPom: Louisville 70 Clemson 63 - 74% certainty

Drew: Louisville 82 Clemson 67