Blog Entry

Clemson looks the part

Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:22 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 4:53 am

Posted by Jeff Borzello

People who thought that neither Clemson nor UAB deserved to make the NCAA tournament were hoping to see a poorly played debacle of a game better suited for the NIT.

Instead, they saw one team that can potentially upset West Virginia and, well, whatever UAB was on Tuesday.

Clemson was clearly motivated by the detractors, going on an 18-2 run early in the first half to jump out to a 25-7 lead. The Tigers never looked back from there, cruising to a 70-52 win that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.

UAB made six two-point shots. That’s it. The Blazers were 6-for-24 from two-point range, needing to knock down 12 3-pointers to stay within striking distance (if striking distance was four possessions or so). They turned the ball over 19 times and took just seven foul shots.

It certainly wasn’t the type of effort that would make anyone think UAB deserved a bid to the NCAA tournament.

On the other side, though, Clemson certainly proved the doubters wrong. The Tigers used pressure defense and transition baskets to get off to an early lead, and then staved off UAB runs with timely steals and points around the rim. Clemson absolutely dominated the paint, getting 43 points and 17 rebounds from the post trio of Jerai Grant, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings.

Will Clemson continue to use the extra motivation and give West Virginia a run for its money come Thursday at noon? As an aside, why is Clemson even playing at noon on Thursday? A 36-hour turnaround seems unfair.

The Tigers are playing their best basketball of the season, with competitive losses to Duke and North Carolina the only negatives since mid-February. With the way they are playing defense, they can upset West Virginia.

The Mountaineers can be prone to turnovers, and Clemson’s aggressive defense will look to exploit that weakness. West Virginia is not a good shooting team at all, and can stagnate offensively. The key for the Tigers will be their ability to box out on the defensive end. West Virginia is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and Clemson does struggles at times to rebound consistently.

West Virginia is more physical than Clemson, so the Tigers will need to use their speed and transition game to get points. If they can force turnovers and not allow too many second-chance opportunities for West Virginia, keep an eye on this game.

Win or lose, it's tough to imagine another question concerning Clemson's inclusion in the field of 68. 

As for UAB...  

Photo: US Presswire

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Since: Mar 16, 2011
Posted on: March 16, 2011 5:48 pm

Clemson looks the part

Right.  As for Clemson, yes, just to see the look in Williams's and Duke's coach's eyes (not a clue as to the spelling) playing Clemson said it all.  "This is just not going the way we thought."    Clemson, Stitt and Jerai.  Go Tigers!

Since: Feb 8, 2011
Posted on: March 16, 2011 10:21 am

Clemson looks the part

Clemson is a good team but just because they beat UAB does not mean that they are better than Colorado or a couple of the other NIT teams that were more deserving based on their body of work. UAB did not earn this chance and they blew what they were given.

Since: Mar 16, 2011
Posted on: March 16, 2011 9:21 am

Clemson looks the part

And I should add to the previous post, Clemson did get a top 50 win last night, as UAB was a top 50 team. Isn't that ironic?

Since: Mar 16, 2011
Posted on: March 16, 2011 9:10 am

Clemson looks the part

For those harping on Clemson having zero top 50 wins just because it is displayed on the TV screen,, perhaps doing a little research would help. Clemson beat Florida State earlier this year when they were clearly a top 50 team before they lost their best player. Clemson also beat Boston College twice and they were top 50 almost the ENTIRE year until Clemson's last win knocked them out of the top 50. So, apparently knocking teams out of the top 50 nullifies a top 50 win? Really? And when you consider that their top 50 losses were mainly to Duke & UNC, it's not nearly as helpful of a stat as you may think. Everyone's talking about how last night proved that UAB didn't belong, but I tend to think it proved that the NCAA seeded this thing poorly and that Clemson didn't need to be playing last night and should be seeded better.

Since: Jan 30, 2007
Posted on: March 16, 2011 7:59 am

Clemson looks the part

If, when you talk about top-50 wins, you're using the RPI as your rankings ... well the RPI blows.  It's a fairly useless statistic, or at the very least, much less useful than Ken Pomery or Jeff Sagarin (whose rankings are much better predictors of game outcomes than the RPI).  Clemson is the number 24 team at kenpom, and number 42 in Sagarin's ratings.  Using kenpom's ratings, they beat two top-50 teams.  As for UAB, they are ranked 56 and 53 in those rankings, respectively, with their best win coming against #65 (kenpom), UTEP. 

So the problem isn't your idea of beating good teams as a requirement for inclusion in the tournament; the problem is you're using the wrong metrics.  The RPI should die a quick death, and tempo-free statistics, such as those noted above should become the norm.

Since: Aug 13, 2006
Posted on: March 16, 2011 7:14 am

Clemson looks the part

Zero top 50 RPI wins right.  Since RPI is such a fantastic judge of teams right.  How did that Harvard team ranked in the 30's in RPI fair last night in the NIT.  Or maybe St. Mary's, that fine Top 50 ranked RPI team.   But you were wrong about one more thing, "With zero top 50 wins....nothing they do in the tournament will change that".   Well, according to those incredibly accurate Top 50 RPI rankings, UAB was 31, so now I guess Clemson does have a top 50 win.   You put way to much emphasis on computer numbers and not enough on how the team is actually playing against quality competition.  But I will give you this, Clemson didn't deserve to be there last night, they deserved a higher seed than the last play in game

Since: Dec 21, 2008
Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:57 am

Clemson looks the part

"On the other side, though, Clemson certainly proved the doubters wrong", really?   No, they didn't.  They have ZERO wins vs the top 50.  No team w/ ZERO top-50 wins should EVER get an at-large birth.  It's not about whether Clemson is good enough to win a game or two in the tournament (after all, there's probably about 20 teams good enough that aren't in it).  Rather, it's about whether they played their way in.  And, with ZERO top-50 wins, they certainly don't deserve to be there.  And nothing they do in the tournament will change that.

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