When: Wednesday 7pm
Clemson got a much needed win over Boston College on Saturday to keep its tenuous NCAA tournament hopes alive. The race to 9-9 in the ACC marches on to Pitt who is in the midst of a 10 game losing streak after a surprising win over Florida State put them at 2-2 in the league in January. Simply put, Clemson cannot lose this and hope to make the tournament.
The Tigers got the offense going against the defensively challenged Eagles and eclipsed 70 points for the first time since the first Pitt game nearly a month prior. The biggest positive for me, other than the awesome 90s throwback uniforms, is that Boston College threw a run at the Tigers and took the lead in the second half behind an explosion from future pro Ky Bowman, yet the Tigers were able to steady the ship and regain control to win. You shouldn’t have to worry about mindset with such a veteran team as this, but after 3 straight losses with two being extremely, extremely winnable and painful in nature, you always have to think of the intangibles.
Although Pitt hasn’t been winning, the Panthers have put up some good fights in close defeats to NCSU, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest along the way. This is a good sign for the Panthers that Jeff Capel continues to have the team playing hard and competitively despite not getting the desired results. Clemson will need to go and play pretty well to win and not expect the Panthers to just roll over and play dead. Clemson needs to be playing at a high level from here on out anyway considering the circumstances.
We covered the key Panthers, including South Carolina product Trey McGowens, in the previous preview Q and A we had with Panther-Lair. Clemson played its most dominant half of basketball of the season in the first meeting, putting up 51 points to just 23. The second half was sloppy as the Panthers outscored Clemson 46-31. It is hard to read into that considering how human nature is to relax when being up that much, while the other team plays loose with the outcome likely decided. However, it certainly indicates Clemson probably isn’t 20 points better than Pitt in a normal outing and this game is very likely to be much, much closer throughout.
The hope of getting good bench production from this year’s Tigers has nearly faded away completely. Now Newman, White, Tyson, and Jemison are getting token minutes at best depending on the matchup and foul trouble. Only Clyde Trapp sees consistent minutes no matter what game it is. The starters have to produce, and the team can’t really afford for Reed, Mitchell, and/or Thomas to have a bad night offensively. This is probably the biggest factor in the team’s relative underachievement this season.
KenPom has the Tigers at only a 66-64 margin despite the Panthers being just 2-12 in the league. That goes to show how tough winning on the road in the league is. I did like the moxie the team showed against BC and think some of that offensive will carry over to this game. I’ll say Clemson wins 70-60.