Clemson (1-0) vs. UAB (0-1)
Location: Asheville, NC (Harrah’s Cherokee Center)
The 1-0 Clemson Tigers head to Asheville to compete in the Asheville Championship against UAB, Davidson, and Maryland. The Davidson Wildcats and Maryland Terrapins play at 7:00pm and then the Tigers and Blazers get the late night slot at 9:30pm. The winners of each game will play on Sunday on ESPN2.
UAB junior guard Eric Gaines averaged 11.3 points and 4.3 assists per game last season and went for 16 and 2 in their season-opener against Bradley. At 6-foot-2 and just 165 lbs, he is a bit smaller than Chase Hunter (6-4 200) and Joe Girard (6-2 189). It’ll be interesting to see if that comes into play. I’m particularly interested in seeing how Girard performs. He didn’t get his usual scoring going in the opener against Winthrop but had four assists and looked like a playmaker. Perhaps we see a bit more from him in terms of scoring in this game.
UAB lost their opener in OT against Bradley but remain ranked in KenPom’s top 100. In the loss, 6-foot-9 forward Javian Davis went off for 20 points and 15 rebounds. He played at Alabama and Mississippi State before making his way to UAB for last season. This is his second year as a Blazer and he didn’t make a big splash with them last year. We’ll see if that big game in the opener is something he can build off. Going against Clemson’s potentially elite front court will make it tougher.
The Tigers got a really strong showing from center PJ Hall and power forward Ian Schieffelin in the opener against Winthrop. The Tigers front court duo looks like a major strength of the team. UAB has three players listed at 6-foot-9 including Javian Davis so they won’t be wildly overmatched, but I expect Clemson to attack the paint nevertheless. This may be the formula for Clemson in most games.
UAB is ranked 92nd in KenPom compared to Clemson at 45th. KenPom gives Clemson a 72% chance to win and I’m on board with the optimism. I think this could be one of Coach Brownell’s two best teams since he has been at Clemson. This game won’t tell us a ton (unless they lose), but a win could set-up a big time matchup with Maryland.