When you get to this stage of the NCAA Tournament, stars on each team tend to cancel each other out, and the team that gets a better output from role players will win out.
Clemson has had standout games from players on the periphery all season, but no one came out of nowhere quite like AJ Oliver down the stretch.
Rewarded with more playing time as a credit to his hard work in practice, Head Coach Brad Brownell inserted Oliver unexpectedly in the Tigers’ first game in the ACC Tournament against Boston College.
Oliver hit three shots, scoring a career-high nine points, including one three-pointer in a crucial moment to keep Clemson in the lead against the hard-charging Eagles.
The hometown product from Daniel High School told us how he’s adapted to his increase in playing time.
One player who Clemson needs to get going off the bench is Mark Donnal, who is no stranger to the big stage of the NCAA Tournament. Donnal was part of a Michigan team that advanced to the Sweet 16 last season and the Elite Eight during his redshirt year with the Wolverines.
While Donnal provided some offensive help early in the conference season, he has struggled to stay on the floor as a result of his defense.
Clemson will need him to be strong defensively against Kansas big-man Udoka Azubuike, and possibly add some offense to give the Tigers an extra push:
Clemson and Kansas tip off at 7 PM Friday night in Omaha, for the right to head to the Elite Eight to face either Duke or Syracuse.