For the first time since 2008, the Clemson Tigers (22-9, 14-6 ACC) find themselves as the 3-seed heading into the ACC Tournament, earning a double-bye before appearing in the quarterfinals of the tournament this week on Thursday at 9:30pm.
Clemson wrapped up the regular season in style, winning comfortably against Notre Dame in the home finale, 87-64. The Tigers finished 15-1 at home this season, capping off one of their best seasons at Littlejohn Coliseum in school history. Clemson enters the tournament 22-9 after winning a school-record 14 games in the ACC. The Tigers were only two wins away from winning the regular season ACC championship outright as Miami and Virginia tied for the league crown at 15-5.
Heading into the tournament, Clemson has won four of its last six games. All four of those wins came by double-digits and featured Clemson scoring 85+ points. When this team is hot, they might be the best team in the conference; however, the flip side is also true. The Tigers suffered a terrible loss on the road to Louisville in mid-February and struggled to keep pace with 13th-ranked Virginia ten days later, but the blowout victory over the Fighting Irish to cap the regular season will hopefully provide some much-needed momentum in Greensboro.
11-seed Virginia Tech will face 13-seed Notre Dame on Tuesday. The winner of that matchup will face 6-seed NC State. Clemson will face the winner of that game on Thursday night. Clemson should be favorites on Thursday regardless of the opponent. They are 5-0 against the three potential opponents.
If the Tigers can get past their quarterfinal matchup, they are most likely staring down a semifinal game against either 13th-ranked Virginia (2-seed) or North Carolina (7-seed), two teams Clemson didn’t fare well with this season. 16th-ranked Miami (1-seed) and Duke (4-seed) wrap up the other double-bye teams in the tournament.
If you can remember that team from 2008 that was the last 3-seed from Clemson, you remember the run they had to the tournament final, knocking off #9 Duke and coming oh-so-close to knocking off #1 North Carolina in the final. 15 years later, the Tigers finally have a squad back inside the top three seeds with a real shot to win the tournament.
Guard play will be the key for Clemson making a run in Greensboro. As Chase Hunter and Brevin Galloway go, so has this Clemson team, and we have seen all year that when they are making shots, this is a dangerous team to deal with. PJ Hall and Hunter Tyson will lead the way, but Hunter and Galloway will play the biggest role in how far Clemson goes.
As of now, the Tigers are still on the wrong side of the bubble. With a win or two, who knows what can happen on Selection Sunday? The Quad four losses are a lot to overcome for Clemson and it may take two wins to get in. Some even believe they’ll need to win the ACC tournament and earn the auto-bid. This has been an up-and-down season and winning Clemson’s first-ever ACC tournament championship would certainly make this season an unmistakable success.
I don't think so personally......if for any other reason, I don't think the Committee puts much stock in any conference tournament results. Clemson should be focused on running the table and getting the auto-bid.— Erik Haslam (@haslametrics) March 5, 2023
Action for the Tigers begins on Thursday evening at 9:30pm EST. TV coverage is yet to be determined, but will either be ESPN or ESPN2. If Clemson wins Thursday, they will play again Friday night in the semifinals at the same time and same networks. The tournament final is scheduled for Saturday night at 8:30pm EST on ESPN.