NCAA “bubble” talk now a reality for Clemson basketball

Price11Don’t look now but Clemson has quietly played its way onto the proverbial March Madness “bubble” and into the conversation for a possible postseason bid.

After outlasting Florida State in Tallahassee last night 62-56, the Tigers have now won four-straight games (tied for longest in the ACC this season) and six of their last eight. Clemson is now 14-8 overall and 6-4 in the ACC (6th place, since Syracuse no longer counts).

Common basketball sense tells you that sitting in sixth place in the country’s best basketball conference at worst puts you in the bubble conversation. Need proof? ESPN’s Mr. Bracketology Joe Lunardi has Clemson in his “first four out” in his updated bracket after last night.

I know, this sounds like crazy talk, right? Sure it does, especially if you saw this team play early in the season. Or even if you saw the Tigers play last week because it’s not pretty at times.

But style points has nothing to do with wins and losses, primarily the “Ws” because that’s the name of the game no matter how you chalk them up.

Think No. 3 Virginia or its fans care that they play a boring, slow-down style of hoops? They’ve chalked up 20 wins so far with just one loss and not a single player on the roster was a Top-100 rated recruit coming out of high school.

Which brings me to the ringleader of this conversation we’re having right now: Clemson head coach Brad Brownell.

I’ve said repeatedly that Brownell is one of the outstanding floor coaches in college basketball. He’s showing it once again this season by turning in likely his best coaching job since arriving in Clemson.

The Tigers aren’t blessed with an abundance of overall talent, something Brownell is fully responsible for as the head coach. He doesn’t have a KJ McDaniels-caliber player with the ability to play above the rim or take over in large stretches. He has two incredibly talented young forwards (Donte Grantham and Jaron Blossomgame), a veteran backcourt and three bigs turning in solid, rim-protecting play in the lane.

Instead, he’s winning again with the most important calling card and the signature of any Brownell-coached team: defense, rebounding and toughness. His team’s commitment to those three pillars have kept and will continue to keep the Tigers in and winning games against teams far superior in talent. Will they get blown out from time to time? Sure because this team struggles to score points.

They didn’t beat Louisville, but they went toe-to-toe with the Cards and avoided getting blown out when it looked like a 20-point rout was coming to start the second half. A lead that ballooned to more than 15 points was whistled to three inside of the final minute before falling to then No. 5 Louisville 58-52.

Three ACC road wins later and Clemson has squarely positioned itself on the bubble. The Tigers’ RPI (75) is still borderline from where it needs to be in order to feel comfortable and they do have a pair of wins over RPI Top-40 teams (Arkansas, LSU). They’re also 5-4 in road and neutral site games combined, much better than many bubbles ahead of them.

With eight games remaining, Clemson has three chances for signature, resume-building wins (twice against No. 10 Notre Dame and at No. 4 Duke). They also have three home games remaining against teams (Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia Tech) with a combined 7-23 conference record.

Clearly more work is left to be done for Brownell’s team. But they’re again positioned to control their own NCAA fate by winning against quality competition.

And at this point in the season, that’s something most Clemson fans wouldn’t admit to believing was possible a month ago, including me with that murderous schedule to begin ACC play.

Price Atkinson is a University of Kentucky graduate, lives in Greenville, SC and is a co-host on the “Straight up with Sturge” radio show on ESPN Upstate

Photo Courtesy of Clemson University

Comments

comments

Conway claims region title with special win at Sumter

Conway claims region title with special win at SumterA bizarre special-teams turnaround proved to be very special for [more]

Region 7-4A: Chiefs win, take piece of region title

Region 7-4A: Chiefs win, take piece of region titleThe No. 2-ranked North Myrtle Beach High football team apparently [more]

Football Roundup: Braves, Saints win; Panthers falter

Football Roundup: Braves, Saints win; Panthers falterThe Socastee High offense had another big night to beat [more]

Chants shock No. 2 Terps amid late-season surge

Chants shock No. 2 Terps amid late-season surgeFor the second consecutive match, the Coastal Carolina men’s soccer [more]

Week 10 Previews & Picks: Points aplenty this season

Week 10 Previews & Picks: Points aplenty this seasonYou don't have to be a math major to keep [more]

Volleyball: 4 area teams sweep playoff openers

Volleyball: 4 area teams sweep playoff openersThe North Myrtle Beach High volleyball team opened the Class [more]

Former CCU fan favorite Gray dies in car accident

Former CCU fan favorite Gray dies in car accidentFormer Coastal Carolina University standout basketball player Chad Gray was [more]

Tennis: Saints, Seahawks, Braves win playoff debuts

Tennis: Saints, Seahawks, Braves win playoff debutsThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach girls tennis team waltzed [more]

Socastee boys make it seven straight region titles

Socastee boys make it seven straight region titlesThe Socastee High boys cross country team captures its seventh [more]

Lady Sharks capture fifth straight Lower State title

Lady Sharks capture fifth straight Lower State titleThe St. James High girls golf team officially made it [more]

NMB girls, SJ boys run to region XC championships

NMB girls, SJ boys run to region XC championshipsThe North Myrtle Beach girls and St. James boys cross [more]

Carolina Forest, Socastee qualify for state golf finals

Carolina Forest, Socastee qualify for state golf finalsThe Carolina Forest and Socastee High girls golf teams qualified [more]

Washington strikes gold, silver at SCISA state meet

Washington strikes gold, silver at SCISA state meetChristian Academy of Myrtle Beach sent eight qualifiers to the [more]

Trio of Lady Chants sweep weekly conference honors

Trio of Lady Chants sweep weekly conference honorsCoastal Carolina nearly swept the Sun Belt Conference weekly volleyball [more]

CCU shoots under par as team for top-five showing

CCU shoots under par as team for top-five showingFor the ninth time in nine opportunities this season, the [more]

Two local swimmers claim gold medals at state meet

Two local swimmers claim gold medals at state meetCarolina Forest's Taylor Steele and St. James Casey Mitchell were [more]

Keane injured as Coastal routed by Arkansas State

Keane injured as Coastal routed by Arkansas StateArkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen threw five touchdowns to lead [more]

Melchor's hat trick helps Chants upend Monarchs

Melchor's hat trick helps Chants upend MonarchsMartin Melchor scored a career-high three goals in leading Coastal [more]

Seahawks blast Bulldogs for second straight rout

Seahawks blast Bulldogs for second straight routDoug Shaw Memorial Stadium recently underwent major renovations. Perhaps they [more]

Chiefs capture first-place showdown with Wilson

Chiefs capture first-place showdown with WilsonThe North Myrtle Beach High football team placed itself firmly [more]

Football: Tigers rip Bruins; Panthers falter at Sumter

Football: Tigers rip Bruins; Panthers falter at SumterThe Conway High Tigers made a homecoming statement Friday night, [more]

Syracuse stuns Clemson, damages title repeat plan

Syracuse stuns Clemson, damages title repeat planNo. 2 Clemson suffered its first loss of the season [more]

Seahawks outduel Chiefs for region championship

Seahawks outduel Chiefs for region championshipThe top two ranked volleyball teams in Class 4A played [more]

Golf: Sharks, Seahawks cap season with victories

Golf: Sharks, Seahawks cap season with victoriesThe St. James High girls golf team paid tribute to [more]

Chants storm past Czechs in October baseball treat

Chants storm past Czechs in October baseball treatDown 3-0 after four innings, the Coastal Carolina baseball team [more]

Conway claims region title with special win at Sumter

Conway claims region title with special win at SumterA bizarre special-teams turnaround proved to be very special for [more]

Region 7-4A: Chiefs win, take piece of region title

Region 7-4A: Chiefs win, take piece of region titleThe No. 2-ranked North Myrtle Beach High football team apparently [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach