Clemson opened the ACC Tournament with a 75-61 win over N.C. State Thursday in Brooklyn, New York.
That’s the Tigers first win at the ACC Tourney since 2014, but more importantly it’s their third win this month.
It is hard to believe, but despite all of Clemson’s struggles this season, the Tigers actually still have a (long?) shot at getting an NCAA Tournament bid.
I will give you a minute to wipe the sweet tea you just spit out of your mouth off your screen.
How can this be, you say? Well, first, per usual, the ACC is loaded this season. It isn’t crazy to think the league will get double-digit bids into the NCAA Tournament Sunday. That said, Clemson didn’t exactly make hay in the regular season. A bunch of closes losses left them with only six ACC wins during the regular season. Despite this, by virtue of some non-conference wins over teams like USC, Alabama and Georgia and by playing in highly respected and deep conference, the Tigers have managed to stay on the NCAA Tournament bubble for most of the season. ESPN’s latest bracket had Clemson among the “Next Four Out” in its last projection.
What would it take for the Tigers to get into the field? Blackmail, via naked pictures of a NCAA committee member might help but if that isn’t doable a win over Duke Wednesday followed by a win over Louisville Friday could well do the trick.
Is that likely?
No, probably not. But it’s not impossible. As previously mentioned, the Tigers have managed to hang with almost every ACC team they’ve faced (At Florida State and at Louisville not withstanding), and the last time they faced Duke they only lost by two points at Cameron Indoor Stadium. That Duke team was coming off a Thursday night win over rival North Carolina though and was playing a quick turnaround Saturday game. This game will feature a rested Duke team against a Clemson team that played the day before. It is a tough road, but crazier things have happened. They don’t call it March Madness for nothing.
That being said, the most likely scenario is Clemson loses to a fresh Duke team tomorrow and lands in the NIT.
Just keeping it real.