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Clemson Basketball Preview: Miami

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Hurricanes 15-9 (6-7) at Clemson Tigers 16-7 (6-6)

When: Wednesday 2/14, 7:00pm

The college basketball season enters it’s last four week regular season stretch. A week ago at this time, the Clemson basketball team was left for dead. 10th in the league, sub-.500 ACC record, and inching closer to the tournament bubble, several people (including myself) began to hit the “checkout” button on the 2024 season. Questions were being raised about the current staff, and the overall future of the program.

But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, or a possum raising it’s head out of the garbage to bite a dog, Clemson basketball rose again. Brad Brownell led his team into Chapel Hill to get his 2nd (that is the number 2, not 1) win in the Dean Dome. For all the flack Brownell catch, there is literally no coach in Clemson’s history that can say that.

The Tigers followed that up with a gutsy win in another tough road venue, in front of a football sized crowd at the Carrier (I know it’s JMA, but come on) Dome. Joe Girard played like he didn’t just want a win, he wanted to leave know doubt. For every run a team has made over the last 2 games, seemingly the likes of Girard, Hall, Scheffelin and Hunter have had an answer.

All this comes around to another crucial game on Wednesday night, as the Tigers return to Littlejohn. This time it’s a rematch with the Miami Hurricanes, a team that knocked them off in early January, 95-82.

This game is such an odd combination. For all the good the Tigers have done on the road, they have a meager 2-3 record at home. Their 2 wins were surprisingly laborious wins over Boston College and Louisville, and I don’t have to go over the litany of mistakes in their three home losses (GT, UNC, and UVA).

In the last game against the Hurricanes, Miami shot an eye popping 75% from the field in the second half, with Nigel Pack and Matthew Cleveland rarely missing a shot in one of the hottest shooting halves in all of college basketball this season.

But as mentioned earlier, the oddities of this game go both ways. Miami has cooled down tremendously since the night they got hot in Coral Gables. The Canes have gone 4-7 in the last 11 including a home loss to Louisville.

The Canes starting 5 is still oozing with offensive talent. Nigel Pack, Matthew Cleveland, Norchad Omier and Wooga Poplar all have immense scoring capabilities. But, as of this season, this Canes team has a penchant for giving up points.

So in this roller coaster of a year, as it has been all year, the key to the game is how well does Clemson execute? A clean game with limited turnovers and aggressive rebounding could spell a revenge W for the Tigers. But you never quite know what you’re gonna get with this team.