Clemson vs Miami
Where: ACC Tournament, Greensboro, North Carolina
When: 12 PM EST
How to Watch: ESPN
Miami Hurricanes (15-15)
What can I say about Miami?
They’ve essentially had an inverse season from Clemson. While the Tigers were knocking off the top teams in the ACC and finding new, creative and exciting ways to lose to every basement dweller on the schedule, the Hurricanes have mostly held serve against the bottom of the ACC while being smacked around by the big boys at the top.
The Hurricanes have dealt with and continue to deal with injuries. The status of their leading scorer, Chris Lykes is up in the air for this game. If he doesn’t play, it doesn’t necessarily mean Clemson wins, because Miami beat Syracuse in their last outing without Lykes.
Much like Clemson, Miami’s only way to make the tournament is to win the ACC tournament, They are a veteran group and I expect for them to come out a scrap for 40 minutes.
Miami Starting Line Up
PG: #0 - Chris Lykes - Jr - 5’7, 165 - 15.2 PPG, 2.4 AST
SG: #1 - DeJan Vasiljevic - Jr - 6’3, 185 - 13.1 PPG, 1.1 AST
SF: #23 - Kameron McGusty - Jr - 6’5, 190 - 12.5 PPG, 4 REB
PF: #4 - Keith Stone - Sr - 6’8, 244 - 5.3 PPG, 2.8 REB
C: #14 - Rodney Miller - Jr - 7’0, 255 - 6.5 PPG, 5.4 REB
G: #2 - Isaiah Wong - Fr - 6’3, 170 - 7.7 PPG, 1 AST
G: #5 - Harlond Beverly - Fr - 6’4, 185 - 7.8 PPG, 2.5 AST
F: #21 - Sam Waardenburg - Jr - 6’10, 216 - 6.7 PPG, 6.4 REB
* Injury Note:
As I mentioned above, Chris Lykes missed the final game of the regular season for Miami with an eye injury he sustained in their game against Virginia. His status against Clemson is still up in the air, and if he doesn’t play, the entire game changes. I’m previewing this game under the assumption that Lykes plays.
The Hurricane offense is marginal. Their offensive efficiency is 107.5 (according to Ken Pom) putting them a little above average at 82nd in the country. They don’t turn the ball over much, they hit their free throws, and they grind through possessions.
They rely on the individual ability of their guards to score, and all of them are decent, but not exceptional, at putting the ball in the basket. Lykes is the key to their offense. His ability to both use his quickness to drive the ball and shoot from deep make him a difficult guard for the Tigers. As I’ve mentioned a million times already this season, Clemson has a bad habit of over helping on defense and leaving shooters open at the 3-point line. Lykes is just the type of guard that gives Clemson fits in this area.
Their inside game is a group of rather nondescript bruisers who score on put backs and duns, and generally try and clear the way for the guards with hard screens.
Miami’s defensive efficiency is 101, putting them at 140th in the nation. They’re not terrible, but they’re not Virginia either. They’re excellent about not fouling, but that could be a good thing for Clemson, as the Tigers haven’t exactly set up shop at the free throw line this year. They’re decent at blocking shots, Lykes will occasionally jump in a passing game or strip the ball and pick up a steal, but they don’t generate a ton of turnovers.
They allow teams to shoot 34% from 3, which isn’t great, but Clemson’s ability to hit from deep this year hasn’t been dependent on the other teams defense. Sometimes they’re on and hit contested 3’s like layups, sometimes they’re off and shoot wide open airballs. Like everyone else on Clemson’s schedule, they’re going to clog up passing and driving lanes and make the Tigers prove they can hit enough 3’s to win the game. If they don’t, they should fire their coach.
At this point in the season, I don’t know what else to say about this team that I haven’t said already. They’re a better team than Miami, but could easily lose to them. It all depends on which Clemson players show up to Greensboro ready to play.
Aamir Simms hasn’t shown up since the first Georgia Tech game on February 25th.
I haven’t seen Al-Amir Dawes since he hit the game winner against Florida State.
Tevin Mack has been fairly consistent of late, which makes me worry that he’s going to score 2 points on 1-12 shooting tomorrow.
I can’t tell if John Newman III is a potential star or a decent career bench player. My evaluation of him changes from game to game.
I’m now convinced Clyde Trapp is hurt. His minutes have been cut and he hasn’t hit double digits since the Louisville game. He doesn’t look like the dynamic athlete I’ve seen the last few seasons.
If a combination of 2 or 3 of the guys listed above get it together and put together a decent game, Clemson should beat Miami. I’ll go so far as to say if Aamir Simms puts up 21 like he did against Miami the first time, Clemson will win this game.
Will any of that happen?
Clemson 68 - Miami 65
Clemson 62 - Miami 57
Good guys prevail in a rock fight. Clemson has the ability to beat every team in this tournament or lose a pick up game to the grad school intramural team.
Let’s hope the good Clemson shows up in North Carolina tomorrow and the rest of the week.
Also in Greensboro
On Tuesday, UNC torched Virginia Tech. They’ve finally come around and are a serious threat despite being literally the lowest seed in the whole bracket, #14.
Wake Forest lost by nine to Pittsburgh. The Deacons have become irrelevant. It’s hard to imagine they retain their head coach for another year.
The Tigers and Hurricanes start day two of the ACC tournament at noon. After Clemson plays, Pittsburgh and NCSU face off at 2:00pm. BC and Notre Dame have the primetime slot at 7:00pm. The best game of the day will be UNC vs. Syracuse at 9pm. The 14-18 Tar Heels are dangerous.
The winner of the Clemson vs. Miami game will play Thursday at 12:30 against Florida State. The winner of that will face the winner of Duke vs. Pittsburgh/NCSU. Ironically, Clemson has beaten both FSU and Duke, but lost to Miami.