Clemson (3-0) vs. Boise State (2-0)
When: Sunday (11/19), 1:00pm
Location: Clemson, SC (Littlejohn Coliseum)
It wasn’t easy, but Clemson managed to edge UAB and Davidson in the Asheville Championship to win the early season tournament and reach 3-0. They needed a late three-point play from PJ Hall and two clutch free throws from Chase Hunter to beat UAB. Thanks to Davidson’s upset over Maryland (who also lost to UAB), the Tigers matched up with the Wildcats and promptly fell behind by 18-points. Joe Girard finally got hot and went 5-12 from 3-point territory to help Clemson comeback and beat Davidson.
Now, the 3-0 Tigers get their toughest opponent yet, the Boise State Broncos. Boise State was a 10-seed in last year’s NCAA tournament before falling to Northwestern in the Round of 64. Three of their four leading scorers from that team return. Two of them are post-players. The 6-foot-8 Tyson Degenhart averaged 14.1 points and 5.3 rebounds last year and will go up against PJ Hall in the post. His counterpart, Chibuzo Agbo (6-foot-7) will pose a challenge for Ian Schieffelin and RJ Godfrey of Clemson. Both Degenhart and Agbo are averaging 17 points per game through two games this season. Avoiding foul trouble and winning in the post will be key for both teams.
Max Rice is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who made 72 3-pointers with an impressive .407 3-point percentage last year. He averaged 14 points per game and will be another player to watch. He may pair up against Chase Hunter as the key perimeter matchup to watch.
Boise State is a veteran team that should give Clemson another stiff challenge. Fortunately, this one is at home and as a result, KenPom gives the Tigers a 67% chance to win. After the Broncos, Clemson will get a reprieve with Alcorn State coming next. Alcorn State is currently ranked outside KenPom’s top 250.
If the Tigers can defend home court and beat Boise State (and assuming they beat Alcorn St.), they’ll be 5-0 entering their toughest stretches of non-conference games in memory. From November 28th to December 16 Clemson will play Alabama, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, TCU, and Memphis, with only the South Carolina game coming at home. It is imperative for Clemson to begin that stretch at 5-0. That would provide some leeway to drop a few contests and still exit non-conference play with more accomplishments than red flags so their performance in ACC play is not questioned (like last year). It starts with securing a home win against Boise State on Sunday!