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Hoops Preview: Clemson Hosts Duke

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Don’t care, ended the streak!

DAGGER!!

When: Tuesday 7PM

Where: Littlejohn

TV: ESPN2/ACCN

DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD! Clemson basketball is playing with house money from here on out after FINALLY ending probably the most painful running statistic in the history of Clemson athletics: the winless in Chapel Hill streak. In the same vein as “Don’t care, won the Natty,” the “Don’t care, ended the streak,” response will reign supreme for a while.

I can’t imagine a coach needing something much more than Brad Brownell pulling off this accomplishment. Sure, UNC is having a rare down year. Sure, their best player was out hurt. Sure, Roy Williams was an idiot to not foul Clemson on the last regulation possession (same as Purnell back in 2008). Don’t care, ended the streak! See how that works? In the end, Clemson basketball fans don’t need ALL that much. Providing pain to UNC and/or Duke in their top sport will usually suffice. Moments like Greg Buckner’s dunk in the ACC tournament, Trevor Booker’s tomahawk over two Duke players in blowout win, the slab five winning in Durham and sending Coach K to the psychiatric ward back rehab facility can be enough to get Tiger fans through the long cold months between football and baseball season. Aamir Simms dropping cold blooded bombs to send the game into overtime is moving right to the top of that list.

The Tigers have taken two tobacco road teams out in a row, which is also something you rarely see in this sport, and the trifecta over the best of the bunch would be just the lunacy the Brad Brownell regime has provided over the years. Now, I’m hoping to still be floating in euphoria from Monday night’s championship game to let anything on Tuesday bring me down. I certainly don’t expect Clemson to beat a legitimate top 10 team, but you can never predict what doing something like what the team did on Saturday will do for the mindset of the players. These Tigers can defend, and if they can just make shots at about 7-10% better clip, they can compete and win games in the league. Clemson’s 12 made 3’s were just enough to overcome UNC’s advantages from the FT line and in the paint.

Duke comes in with their usual array of high level talent. Duke is KenPom’s #1 team with only the shocking loss at home to Stephen F. Austin so far this year. They have been flat out dominant since that game, with the closest win being a 73-64 game at Georgia Tech. Here are the usual suspects in the Blue Devil lineup:

Vernon Carey, 6’10” 270 pound freshman stud averaging 17.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He’s a matchup nightmare for nearly every team, but especially Clemson who likes to roll with the undersized Aamir Simms at the 5 position. Remember that Minnesota game? Duke presents the same issues and then some.

Tre Jones, 6’3” 185 pound sophomore point guard. Jones returned for this season and is putting up 14.9 points and 7 assists while shooting 36.7 percent from 3. He’ll be a handful for both Al Amir-Dawes and Clyde Trapp to contain.

Freshmen Cassius Stanley and Matthew Hurt round out the double figure scorers for the Duke lineup, while fellow freshman Wendall Moore is another dangerous player in the lineup. Sr. Jack White is the leading candidate for the “role player who blows up against Clemson” award.

This Duke team is playing a little more of the bench than the last few top heavy teams in Durham. Perhaps the lopsided scores has allowed for more of this than what might normally happen, but this is a clear contender for the national championship and it will take playing like the team did the last 2 minutes of regulation and the overtime in Chapel Hill for 40 minutes to win.

KenPom says 73-61 Duke. I just say, “Don’t care, ended the streak!”

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports