Perhaps it's time to start talking about Clemson as a prospective tournament team.
Yes, the Tigers are 13-7 and that's probably marginal. But look at what the Tigers have achieved so far. We're using KenPom ratings here.
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Clemson has beaten:
- #45 Florida State
- #40 Syracuse
- #3 Louisville
- #19 Duke
- #7 Miami
- #53 Pitt
Toss in two very competitive games with UNC and Virginia and ask yourself: does this team belong?
So far, we'd say yes. We'd put them somewhere around a 7-10 seed currently, nd not only that, we'd be inclined to favor them in an early round game (depending on the opponent of course).
For a lot of teams, Clemson would be a nightmare early opponent. For that matter, Pitt probably wasn't very happy with them Wednesday night.
Clemson built an 18-point lead in the second half and won by 13. Jaron Blossomgame had 22 to lead the Tigers. Clemson held Pitt to 38.2% from the floor. Jamie Dixon was impressed with Clemson and less so his own.
"They outplayed us, the rebounds, the steals, they had more possessions than us, and I thought they played well...We got what we deserved, we have to do some things differently and we will as we get ready for [Virginia Tech] Sunday...We had leads early in these games so in terms of us not being ready to play, well that blows that theory, but they have made runs in the second part of the first half. But simply put, we are not defending well enough."
Virginia Tech, another major ACC surprise, couldn't keep pace and fell to Louisville. But the Cards had to work for it.
Good thing they had Damion Lee. The grad student transfer hit for 29, including his first six three pointers. He missed his last and that was it. He was 6-8 overall and 11-12 from the line.
He finished with 29 and Louisville needed it because the Hokies pushed them.
Virginia Tech has slowed down - the Hokies started 4-1 and are now 4-4 - but that team is no easy out.
Good news for State: Cat Barber, who banged up his knee in the Duke game and was questionable for Georgia Tech, not only started but played well, finishing with 36 points.
But the rest of the team managed just 47 points and almost half of those were from Abdul-Malik Abu, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Coach Mark Gottfried was not overly happy: "If I’m in a fight down in the back alley, you might whip me. Damn it, you’re going to be tired at the end of it. You ain’t going to whip me easy. This team has to figure that out."
Both State and Georgia Tech are 1-7. Gottfried has some considerable good will built up at State and a poor season won't hurt him. And next year, when Dennis Smith suits up, State's going to be in a much better situation, regardless of what Barber ultimately does.
Abdul-Malik Abu is becoming a very good power player and the Martin twins are improving almost game by game. Maverick Rowan is only going to get better and at some point, Terry Henderson will contribute. Shawn Kirk is a wonderfully athletic player who will become a factor as well. Brighter days are ahead.
For Tech? Maybe not as much. Brian Gregory has been on the hot seat for a while already and Tech will lose Charles Mitchell, Adam Smith, Nick Jacobs and Marcus Georges-Hunt.
It's going to be a tough transition and the powers that be may decide it's time to let someone else make it.
Archie Miller is ready for his closeup, which would no doubt piss Dayton fans off, since Gregory was there before Georgia Tech.