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Clemson Basketball: Georgia Tech Preview

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Clemson closes the regular season with an anticlimactic home game against the Yellow Jackets.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 09 Notre Dame at Clemson Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Clemson Vs Georgia Tech

When: Friday, March 6, 7 PM EST

Where: Littlejohn Coliseum

How to Watch: ESPN2

Clemson

Oh, what could have been for this team. In another timeline, this game is vitally important for the Tiger’s NCAA at-large bid hopes. In this timeline, unfortunately, this game is a perfunctory exercise between two teams with nothing much to play for other than pride.

Georgia Tech decided to sit out the post season to clear a path for future seasons. Clemson decided to sit out the Virginia Tech game and must win the ACC Tournament to make the Big Dance.

The Tigers have been a menace at home this year, and need to try and regroup after the midweek disappointment in Blacksburg and, at the very least, put on a show for whatever home crowd makes it to the game. They’re more than capable of beating Georgia Tech if they show up, which is always the caveat with this team.

Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets are playing for absolutely nothing against Clemson. Earlier in the week, they withdrew their NCAA appeal and accepted a post season ban from both the ACC and NCAA Tournament. This is the last game of the season for the Tech, and I’m sure Josh Pastner would like to end it with another win over Clemson to bring a 4 game win streak into the off-season.

Tech is hot right now, coming off 3 straight home wins in Atlanta. They haven’t been nearly as tough on the road, but can let it all hang out on Friday.

Key Match Up Clemson Offense

Aamir Simms vs James Banks

Simms dominated this match up last week, putting up 23 and 5 on 10-16 last week in the loss. Since that game, the suddenly reliable Simms has fallen back into his habit of disappearing on the court, only putting up 5 points against Florida State and Virginia Tech.

In Atlanta, Simms was able to out quick Banks and score in a variety of ways, both form the low post and mid range. He’ll need to repeat that performance on Friday if the Tigers intend to head into the ACC tournament with momentum. He might not need 20, but Simms needs to do better than 5 points for the Tigers to win this game.

Al-Amir Dawes vs Jose Alvarado

Alvarado destroyed Clemson in Atlanta, putting up 19 points, including shooting 3-5 from deep. Dawes has to go at Alvarado on defense and make the Georgia Tech point guard expend energy and fouls on defense.

Clemson needs someone to get to the rim after their inexcusable barrage of 3 point duds Wednesday, and Dawes is the best option to break down the defense off the dribble. Alvarado is a high energy player, but Dawes should be able to out athlete him if he’s aggressive. The Tigers need him to be aggressive after not showing up mid-week against the Hokies.

Clemson on Defense

Moses Wright vs Tevin Mack

Wright is a hyper aggressive 6’9, 230 pound forward who wants to dunk everything he touches. Tevin Mack is a 6’6, 230 pound wing doing his best impersonation of a power forward. He’s going to have a fight on his hands on Friday, because Wright hit the switch in the second half of the first meeting and punished Clemson inside. Look for the Tigers to bring the double team quickly and try and make Wright put it on the floor or pass out of the post.

Mack is going to have to use every trick in his bag to keep Wright from dominating the inside and forcing him off the floor for a bigger option at forward. He’ll also need to return the favor on offense and drag Wright away from the basket and drive him to try and pick up cheap fouls on the big man.

Clemson Back Court vs Devoe and Alvardo

In theory, Clemson should be able to wear down Devoe and Alvarado with the sheer number of bodies they have available. That didn’t work last week when the Yellow Jacket back court duo went off for a combined 32 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds. If they combine for anywhere close to those same numbers on Friday, it’s not going to be pretty.

In theory, Clyde Trapp should be the obvious solution to the Devoe problem, but he hasn’t been playing well recently, for whatever reason, and his minutes have been slashed. The combination of Curran Scott and Alex Hemenway have soaked up Trapp’s minutes. They bring more offensive punch and shooting to the floor (esp Hemenway) but neither are what you would consider a lock down defender. Above all else, they must stay disciplined against Tech and make their guards drive the ball and score at the rim, instead of over helping and giving up spot up 3 pointers against late close outs.

Overall

Neither team has much to play for in this game, but I expect both to come out looking to prove a point. Whichever team shows up to play and brings the most energy will win this one. I think the Tigers bring it one more time in Littlejohn to end a confusing and utterly frustrating ACC schedule.

Prediction

Ken Pom - Clemson 65 - Georgia Tech 62

Drew - Clemson 79 - Georgia Tech 72

I like the Tigers in this one, but who knows?

Let’s hope for the best.