In New Year's Day ACC action, Clemson went down to Alabama and just beat the snot out of the Tide, winning 87-61, in a warm-up for Sunday's game with UNC at Littlejohn. Let's be clear: this is not a great season for the SEC. Kentucky is horrible and the best teams in the conference are both in the state of Tennessee, which is likely a first.
Nonetheless, Alabama is not an awful team, and we're betting no one around the team ever expected they'd be down 31 at home. In a typical year, Clemson would take a road trip like this and lose by, oh...12 points or so.
The Tigers are no doubt thrilled to have James Mays back, and he and Trevor Booker just gutted Alabama inside. They also have Sam Perry back and ready to roll after his knee surgery.
Mays is not 100% yet - coach Oliver Purnell pegs him at about 85% or so - and he has to treat his hip after games and can't go all out. But he's playing, and that's huge for Clemson.
What remains to be seen is how well he'll do against a very physical UNC team on Sunday. The Heels have a number of big bodies to throw at him, and they'll come in waves. There are a couple of interesting games between now and then, but make no mistake, Sunday's tiff between these two is going to be the focus of the week and the game everyone around the conference is waiting for.
Most of Wednesday's games are just get-back-in-the-groove games with no-name opponents, but UNC at least has Kent State in. At 10-2, the Golden Flash are in a groove, and as everyone should have learned by now, the MAC is a great conference, even if it is seen as a step below the ACC. But it is a lot like our conference - intense rivalries, lots of passion, small geographic footprint.
Well, scratch that last one after expansion. But you get the idea.
Unfortunately for the MAC, Ball State has collapsed, and Bowling Green and Akron are both in down cycles as well. But it's still a conference capable of pulling off an upset, although UNC would be a tall order (no pun intended), and there's nothing in their schedule to suggest that Kent State is ready for UNC
Still, Kent made a solid impression in Cameron last year and showed themselves to be a sturdy, well-coached team.
Longwood and Presbyterian have no chance, and both B.C. and Wake will nail down their tenth wins of the season. Savannah State is pretty mediocre, and their only hope is that Maryland's mediocrity somehow trumps their own. Unlikely.
- Back At Full Strength: WFU's Skeen will return for tonight's game
- Stepping In: UNC's Ginyard may be asked to play point guard
- Torrid-shooting Clemson rolls past Alabama 87-61
- Wake Forest grounds Air Force's long-range attack
- No. 19 Clemson Rolls Over Alabama 87-61
- Degand forced to âPack it in
- Old form by Mays keys rout