The Clemson Tigers have to make a deep run in this week’s ACC tournament in hopes of sustaining any life at all for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. After a heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers over the weekend, Clemson, who was already on the fringe of bubble contention, has a lot of work to do in order to make the tournament for the second time in Coach Brad Brownell’s four year tenure.
With an RPI above 70 and only one win against a high caliber opponent, the Tigers were already a long shot before their loss on Saturday. Clemson could ill afford another loss in their final four games after they fell at Wake Forest. Clemson bounced back with a win against Miami and an overtime victory against Maryland. The Tigers looked to be moving to their third straight victory before the Panthers eliminated what was a 5-point deficit in the final seconds. The Tigers were an inbound pass away from their first-ever 11-win ACC season.
With yet another loss and a record of 2-2 in their last four games, the Tigers are just one of several ACC teams who need a deep run in order to make the dance.
North Carolina State and Florida State are two other teams considered to be just outside of the bubble watch. North Carolina State finished their season with a victory over Boston College, while Florida State lost a much needed game at home against a reeling Syracuse team who had been losers in four of their last five contests.
Although the odds are against Clemson on making the tournament, they are guaranteed to play a team they have already beaten this season in the second and third rounds of the ACC tournament; if the Tigers do make it to the third round.
Clemson will avoid first round action due to their sixth place finish earning them a bye on Wednesday. They will play their first game on Thursday against the winner of Boston College and Georgia Tech. Clemson swept the Yellow Jackets this season and won their only meeting against the Eagles on the road in Chestnut Hill. Clemson will most likely be the favorite in their opening game regardless of who comes out of that Wednesday matchup.
If the Tigers can make it out of that game unscathed and on to the next round, they will then face Duke. The Blue Devils will have the crowd on their side as the tournament is being held in Greensboro, North Carolina, but they are a team Clemson can face with confidence after beating them in the regular season.
If Clemson were to get past Duke they would add another quality victory to their resume and barring many upsets would have a chance to play another high quality opponent.
It would not be an easy feat, but the match-ups are about as favorable as they can be for the Tigers who need to make a deep run to allow them a chance to play in the NCAA’s.