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Clemson Basketball: Florida State - ACC Tournament Day 3 Preview

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NCAA Basketball: Florida State at N.C. State
Devin Vassell (24)
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the huge news that the NCAA and NIT tournaments will be closed to fans due to concern over the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Tigers marched forward and avenged their regular season loss to Miami with a 69-64 victory in Greensboro. With the win, they advance to Day 3 and will face the #1 seed Florida State Seminoles. Interestingly, the game will be played without fans as the ACC announced they’re following the NCAA’s lead and closing the rest of the tournament off to fans.

Where: ACC Tournament, Greensboro, North Carolina

When: 12:30 PM

How to Watch: ESPN or ESPN2

Florida State Seminoles - 26-5 (16-4)

The Seminoles and Tigers will face off for the third time this season when they meet in Greensboro. They split the previous two with the home team winning both games. Florida State enjoyed the double-bye while the Tigers and Hurricanes faced off. The well-rested Seminoles are led by PG Trent Forrest and SF Devin Vassell.

Forrest is a 6’4” senior and averages 11.6 points and 4.0 assists per game. He is a shaky 3-point shooter (.281), but shoots an impressive .504 from inside the 3-point arc. He averages 3.0 turnovers per game though. That’s more than Clemson’s PG, Al-Amir Dawes, who has struggled with turnovers at times and averages 2.5 per game.

Devin Vassell is a sharpshooter and the Seminoles leading scorer (12.7). He’s shot 100-188 (.532) from 2 and 44-106 (.415) from 3. He led the Seminoles in scoring in both games against Clemson with 14 in each contest. When the Tigers were blown out by the Seminoles back in December, it was in large part due to the 15 3-pointers FSU made. FSU was just 8-21 from 3 when they lost at Clemson a few years ago. Clemson has to hold them in check and that starts with slowing Vassell.

From Clemson’s side, they are just a different team when Dawes and John Newman play well and they did just that against Miami on Tuesday. Dawes led the team with 18 points. He was 8-8 from the free throw line. Newman scored 11, but it stood out because he was frequently creating his own shot. The Tigers need him to continue being aggressive.

Clyde Trapp, as fellow STS writer Drew Schneider pointed out, has appeared limited in recent games. He played fewer minutes than Curran Scott and scored just 3 points on 1-4 shooting against Miami. Assuming his offensive woes continue, it further highlights the importance of getting big contributions from Dawes and Newman.

KenPom gives Clemson a 27% chance to pull the upset. FSU will surely be focused after their recent loss to Clemson. They’re looking at locking up a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament with a win. The Tigers are so inconsistent it is hard to predict anything with confidence. Furthermore, who knows how playing in an empty arena will impact things. That said, FSU is an excellent and consistent. Clemson needs to get hot from 3 (they were an ridiculous 21-36 from 3 in their 1-point win) to have a chance. They’ve proven they can do it, but it’s not probable. A win would likely lock up an NIT invitation for the Tigers. They may still get in with a solid showing in a loss (ending their season at 16-16), but it would be quite precarious.