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Clemson Basketball: ACC Tournament Preview

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Clemson’s pursuit for the schools’ first ACC tournament championship begins at 2:30pm on Wednesday against either Miami or Pittsburgh.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-Miami-Florida at Clemson Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

With the Tigers win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, Clemson clinched the No. 5 seed in the ACC tournament. Their ticket to the NCAA tournament is all but punched regardless of conference tournament results. Nevertheless, the Tigers will look to improve their seeding and perhaps claim the school’s first ever tournament championship. The path there looks like this:

Wednesday, approx. 2:30 pm vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh/No. 13 Miami

The Tigers ACC tournament will begin against one of the last two teams they beat - Pittsburgh or Miami. Those two will face off in the first game of the tournament (Tuesday, 2pm) to determine who plays Clemson.

Pittsburgh boasts one of the ACC’s top players, Justin Champagnie. The 6-6 sophomore from Brooklyn is averaging 18.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He was held to just 13 points and a mere four rebounds in the team’s first matchup last Saturday. Despite the below average game, he still led the Panthers in scoring. Pittsburgh is 2-9 over their last 11 games and are without Xavier Johnson who was averaging 14.3 points per game, but is now in the transfer portal. The Tigers controlled the previous matchup, a 77-62 win, and should fare well in a rematch. For a more in-depth preview, check out the game preview for Saturday’s game.

Like Pittsburgh, Miami is 2-9 in their last 11 games. They snapped a six-game losing streak on Friday with a win over Boston college. Miami and Clemson have met twice this season with the Tigers sweeping the season series. The first matchup was in Coral Gables and Clemson snuck out with a snuck out with a 66-65 victory.

In their more recent matchup, Miami’s star player, Isaiah Wong, went off for 28 points. Fortunately for Clemson, Wong’s points accounted for 48% of the ‘Canes offense on that day and the Tigers won, 66-58. Wong is averaging 17.1 points per game and shooting 35.6% from three. Besides Wong, the Hurricanes don’t have many threats from outside, and that’s a huge sigh of relief for Clemson. The Tigers rank just 9th in the ACC in three-point percentage allowed and last in the proportion of opponents shots that come from three (ACC games only). That makes them especially vulnerable to an opponent having a hot shooting performance from outside. If they can slow Wong, Miami doesn’t have a lot of other options that can do that, which bodes well for Clemson. For a more detailed preview of Miami, click here.

The Tigers should advance to the quarterfinals, but they’ve be inconsistent on the road, beating only Miami and Wake Forest on the road in ACC play.

Thursday, approx. 2:30 pm vs. vs. No. 4 Georgia Tech

If the Tigers advance, they get a familiar foe in Georgia Tech. The two teams split the season series. Clemson lost by 18 on January 20th in what was the second game back from the first of two “COVID breaks” in their season. The Tigers avenged the loss in the home portion of the series with a 74-72 win. The Tigers trailed late in that game, but Nick Honor banked in a deep three-pointer with seconds remaining to give the Tigers the huge win. Georgia Tech has not lost since and will enter their first ACC tournament game on a six-game win streak that includes a road win at Virginia Tech and a home win over Duke.

When Georgia Tech is playing well, their offense is excellent. Michael Devoe and Jose Alvarado give them good guard play, which is always critical in tournament play. This will be a tough matchup for the Tigers, but having beat them in their last matchup, it’s certainly winnable.

Friday, 6:30 p.m. vs. No. 1. Virginia/No. 8 Syracuse/No. 9 Duke

If the Tigers advance to the semifinals on Friday, their most likely opponent is Virginia. The Tigers haven’t beaten the Cavaliers since Milton Jennings scored 21 against them in a 59-44 win in January of 2013. Virginia is only 2-3 in their last five games though.

ACC Championship, Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (Most likely opponent No. 2 Florida State/No. 3 Virginia Tech/No. 6 North Carolina)

Clemson and Georgia Tech are the two hottest teams in the ACC having won six of seven and six straight, respectively. Virginia is 3-0 against them this season though. One of those three should emerge from one half of the bracket.

From the other side of the bracket, the No. 2 Seminoles and No. 3 Hokies are most likely to reach the Championship. The Tar Heels can’t be forgotten either. They blasted Duke on Saturday to conclude their season and tend to play well in the tournament. The championship game has had either Duke or North Carolina in it every year going back to the days of Tim Duncan.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Louisville Courier Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK

ACC STANDINGS

  1. Virginia (13-4, ACC)
  2. Florida State (11-4)
  3. Virginia Tech (9-4)
  4. Georgia Tech (11-6)
  5. Clemson (10-6)
  6. North Carolina (10-6)
  7. Louisville (8-5)
  8. Syracuse (9-7)
  9. Duke (9-9)
  10. N.C. State (9-8)
  11. Notre Dame (7-11)
  12. Pittsburgh (6-10)
  13. Miami (4-15)
  14. Wake Forest (3-15)
  15. Boston College (2-11)