#23 Miami Hurricanes (17-5, ACC 17-5) vs #20 Clemson Tigers (18-5, ACC 10-2)
Clemson Purple Out
February 4th, 3:00 PM EST
Littlejohn Coliseum, God’s Country, South Carolina
The Hurricanes have been consistently, inconsistent in 2023, which must be frustrating for owner John Ruiz. He opened up his checkbook in the off-season and brought in one of the hottest free agents on the market in Nijel Pack, previously with Kansas State. Despite Ruiz’s aggressive free-agent moves, the team hasn’t lived up to their advanced billing.
Pack, in particular, has struggled to justify his contract and signing bonus. The former alpha-dog in Manhattan finds himself fourth on the team in scoring, often struggling to find shots with star guard Isaiah Wong leading the team with 256 attempts, followed by 233 attempts from wing/guard Jordan Miller.
The struggle for the ball in the back court has led to an up and down season. In fact, they’ve alternated wins and losses over their last 9 games. They won last time out over Virginia Tech, which bodes will for the Tigers.
Miami on Offense
This is an offensive heavy Miami squad. They’re much better at putting the ball in the hoop, than keeping the opponent from putting the ball in the hoop. Their 118.5 offensive efficiency is good for 10th in the country.
Despite bringing in one of the best shooters in the nation in the off-season, they’re not a great 3 point shooting team, hitting a respectable, but not outstanding 35.9% of their shots from behind the arc. They’re better at scoring inside the arc. Wong and Miller are both adept a finishing at the rim, and 6’7”, 250 pound Norchard Omier is a best on the low block, shooting 63% on 121-192 shooting around the rim.
Miami starts 4 guards/wings. Jordan Miller in nominally a power forward, but the 6’7”, 195 stick figure isn’t going to bang down low that often. If you’ve seen Miami play in the past, you know Jim Larranaga likes to spread the floor and let his guards create. Wong is the engine of the team, he leads the team in scoring at 16.3 a game and assists, coming in at 3.5 per. He’s not technically the point guard, but he’ll finish most possessions with the ball in his hands.
Jordan Miller is a versatile wing that does a little of everything. At 6’7”, he can put the ball on the floor and use his slinky like arms to finish at the rim or pull from deep where he’s hitting 36.5 of his attemts. Nijel Pack is listed as the point guard, but he’s the designated shooter for the Hurricane’s. He’s good in the role, hitting 41.3%. When he’s hitting from outside, he can put a game away in a 2-3 minute stretch.
Sophomore Norchad Omier is pretty much it, but he’s good at what he does. A team full of perimeter threats needs a player that can get down and dirty on the inside. At 6’7”, 250, he’s a banger around the basket, averaging 13.9 points per game. His 16% offensive rebounding percentage is 16th in the nation. If Clemson doesn’t put a body on him, he’ll give the Hurricane guards extra looks at the bucket all night long.
This is a perimeter oriented team that needs to consistently score to win games. If they get into the 80’s during regulation, it’s a wrap. In every game they’ve lost, with the exception of the NC State loss that went to overtime, they’ve struggled to reach 70 points. If this game is played in the 80’s, Miami wins, if it’s played in the 60’s, Clemson wins, and if it’s played in the 70’s I see it as a tossup.
Clemson has to keep Miami one dimensional. The guards are going to score, but when Omier dominates the paint, they become extremely hard to beat. P.J. Hall is coming off a tough outing against Boston College, and will need to buckle his chin strap and put in his mouth guard for this match-up. He has to outplay Omier. If he doesn’t I don’t see a way forward for the Tigers. P.J. is capable, but has been a little up and down at times this year. He’ll need to be up at home tomorrow.
Miami on Defense
The good news is that Miami isn’t a good defensive team. They give up an effective field goal percentage of 49.1 (126th in the nation) including 32.3% from 3 (108th) and 49.5% from 2 (151st). They don’t have a rim protector inside, and teams can bully them on the inside.
Rebounding is a problem Clemson should be able to exploit. Outside of Omier, this is a roster of finesse players. They give up offensive rebounds on 31.5% of their opponents misses (302nd). Clemson’s best lineup is their big lineup with Hall, Schieffelin, and Tyson. It’ll be tough for the Tigers to stay in front on defense on the perimeter, but they can get some of that back on the boards. They need to ring up big offensive rounding numbers to win this game.
What Miami gains on offense by playing 4 perimeter players, they can lose on defense. Clemson must punish them often and early in the paint. If they can get Omier in foul trouble, it will be tough for Miami on the inside. Once the Hurricane’s are forced to help in the paint, then Clemson’s shooters will find themselves open.
IT CAN’T BE THE OTHER WAY AROUND!
If they try to run and gun with Miami they will lose. This has to be Hall, Tyson and Hunter attacking the rim on every possession. If the ball doesn’t touch the paint at least once before a shot, the offensive didn’t work properly.
Clemson - 76
Miami - 75
Confidence - 50%
Miami - 83
Clemson - 76
I still don’t have much faith in this team. I also know that Clemson is undefeated when I pick against them this season. This is a case of two things coming together perfectly. I don’t trust this team, but I also want them to win. Picking against them gives me the best of both worlds.
The Virginia Tech win (51-50) and Boston College loss (62-54) are probably skewing my judgement because those were two of the worst basketball games I’ve attempted to watch and I went to school during the Shyatt era. Miami puts pressure on teams to score, and Clemson can go brutally cold for entire halves. They also finished the Boston College game with 4 assists and 17 turnovers and I don’t even know how that’s possible.
The Tigers get up early, but hit a cold spell that turns into an ice age in the second half and Miami surges ahead for a comfortable win.