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Spiraling Clemson Tigers Host Seminoles

This is must-win territory, or their NCAA tournament hopes might slip away.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

After starting a program-best 10-1 in ACC conference play, the Clemson Tigers have dropped their last three games and are in desperate need of a stabilizing win to slow the bleeding. As Ryan Kantor pointed out, the NET rankings seem to have more accurately predicted Clemson’s true ceiling with its more negative opinion of the Tigers, setting up a crucial last stretch of the regular season.

Two relatively close losses against Boston College and Miami preceded a horrendous 20-point blowout at UNC, putting the Tigers with their backs against the wall. They are already in danger of not making the NCAA tournament despite having one of their best seasons in years thanks to some awful non-conference losses and weak defensive play that has allowed lesser teams to hang with and in some cases prevail over the Tigers.

As it so happens, Clemson’s last win actually came against these visiting Seminoles, an incredible 82-81 thriller that encapsulated the Tigers’ season to that point. Gritty play, crucial free-point shooting, and an unbelievable last-minute finish kept the Tigers on top in a tough road environment. Now, they face that same FSU squad at home who have lost 5 of their last 6.

Both teams are looking for anything to build momentum with: Florida State would love to get revenge for the dagger Clemson delivered at the Tucker Center, while Brownell is hoping his team can right the ship and claim a few more victories before facing several tough matchups to close the regular season.

Clemson needs to have a good game defensively to be able to come away with a win here. The Tigers’ front court has been strong this season but not enough the last few games to overcome poor offensive efforts. Against UNC last week Chase Hunter shot a paltry 3-16 from the field — that won’t get it done against a hungry FSU team.

I’m not as confident as KenPom is on Clemson winning this one (giving the Tigers an 84% chance) but I do think they can squeak out a win at home. Littlejohn will no doubt be rocking and I think the Tigers will weep the Seminoles to keep their tournament hopes alive.