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Clemson Tigers

by Nick Swope | March 16th, 2009

Good Wins: @Temple, @Illinois, Duke, @Boston College, Maryland
Bad Losses: @Virginia, N-Georgia Tech

Strengths:

1. Athleticism.  Coach Oliver Purnell’s pressing style works well because he has great athletes.  Guard Demontez Stitt provides quickness and is able to apply pressure to opposing guards.  K.C. Rivers is a versatile guard/forward who can fill it up from outside (40%).  Big man Trevor Booker is one of the country’s more underrated players, averaging a double-double. 

2. Pressure Defense.  Clemson will press you after a lot of made shots.  They led the ACC in steals.  Particularly in the first round, against Michigan (who hasn’t seen this style of play all year), this puts the Tigers at a decided advantage.  And Oklahoma lost to a similarly-styled Missouri team late in the season, if the Tigers make it to that matchup.

Weaknesses:

1. Free-Throw Shooting.  This has plagued Clemson in recent years.  They only shot 68% as a team (No. 10 in the ACC).  Tournament games are normally decided down the stretch with free-throws which could give the Tigers a problem.  Clemson only has one player, Terrence Oglesby, who shoots over 80% from the free-throw line and two others who shoot over 70%.   It’s hard for them to close out games as a result.

2. Mental Toughness. On paper, this could be an Elite Eight or even Final Four team…so how to explain late-season stumbles to VaTech at home and Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament?  Those are the kinds of games that truly elite-level teams do not lose.  Their second-half seasonal collapses the last three years have been well-documented.  Will this team finally get over the hurdle after being upset by Villanova last year in the first round?

Tournament Prediction:

2nd Round.  Clemson has lost 4 of 5 coming into the NCAA Tournament but look for them to win at least one.  Their athletic up tempo style will force turnovers and give opposing guards fits.

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