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

Strand to host two-week holiday hoops-apalooza

Strand to host two-week holiday hoops-apaloozaChristmas Day is only eight days away, and you know [more]

Wrestling: WB takes Shark Duels; NMB wins Hampton

Wrestling: WB takes Shark Duels; NMB wins HamptonWest Brunswick, the lone North Carolina team in the tournament, [more]

Richardson puts Panthers up for sale amid charges

Richardson puts Panthers up for sale amid chargesShortly after the Carolina Panthers scored a big 31-24 win [more]

Chants shut down Cavs; host Wake Forest Monday

Chants shut down Cavs; host Wake Forest MondayJaylen Shaw scored 23 points and Zac Cuthbertson added 22 [more]

Boys Hoops: Sharks win in 2OT; Chiefs drop nail-biter

Boys Hoops: Sharks win in 2OT; Chiefs drop nail-biterThe North Myrtle Beach High boys basketball team lost a [more]

Girls Hoops: Sharks, Chiefs roll; Tigers take tough loss

Girls Hoops: Sharks, Chiefs roll; Tigers take tough lossThe Conway High girls basketball team suffered its third straight [more]

Wrestling: Braves finish strong to beat Warriors

Wrestling: Braves finish strong to beat WarriorsThe Socastee High wrestling team captured a big win over [more]

Chants return from exams to face tough hoops tests

Chants return from exams to face tough hoops testsAfter taking a week off for final exams, the Coastal [more]

Hoops: Strand teams turn up D to win by blowouts

Hoops: Strand teams turn up D to win by blowoutsThe Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team turned in a [more]

North Myrtle Beach boys, girls sweep rival Socastee

North Myrtle Beach boys, girls sweep rival SocasteeThe North Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team captured its [more]

Wrestling: MB tops Foxes; NMB sweeps quad match

Wrestling: MB tops Foxes; NMB sweeps quad matchThe Myrtle Beach High boys wrestling team captured a hard-fought [more]

Boys Hoops: Tigers hold off Seahawks; Sharks win

Boys Hoops: Tigers hold off Seahawks; Sharks winThe Myrtle Beach High boys basketball team took its best [more]

Girls Hoops: MB settles score with rivals; CF rolls

Girls Hoops: MB settles score with rivals; CF rollsThe Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team got a little [more]

Coastal's Adams named Sun Belt player of week

Coastal's Adams named Sun Belt player of weekCoastal Carolina senior guard Jas Adams has been named the [more]

Conway QB Grainger puts end to recruiting process

Conway QB Grainger puts end to recruiting processConway High quarterback D'Wuan Grainger entered his senior season as [more]

Carolina Forest boys rush past Northwood Academy

Carolina Forest boys rush past Northwood AcademyThe Carolina Forest boys basketball team claimed its second victory [more]

Panthers in playoff hunt; Quigley sticks with Vikes

Panthers in playoff hunt; Quigley sticks with VikesThe Carolina Panthers find themselves back in the thick of [more]

Hoops tip off, wrestling caps busy sports week

Hoops tip off, wrestling caps busy sports weekThe Grand Strand prep sports scene has a busy week [more]

CAC skirts snow, heats up Snowflake Invite podium

CAC skirts snow, heats up Snowflake Invite podiumThe Coastal Aquatic Club (CAC) dodged a snowy weekend in [more]

Riptides dash through the Blizzard Blitz competition

Riptides dash through the Blizzard Blitz competitionSeven Riptide swimmers traveled to Cary, NC, over weekend to [more]

North team extends streak of dominance over South

North team extends streak of dominance over SouthThe North squad extended its streak of dominance in the [more]

Myrtle Beach boys, girls blast past Carolina Forest

Myrtle Beach boys, girls blast past Carolina ForestThe Myrtle Beach High boys and girls basketball teams blew [more]

Gamecocks survive scare from Chants at the buzzer

Gamecocks survive scare from Chants at the buzzerFormer Gamecock-turned-Chanticleer Jaylen Shaw missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at [more]

Steele makes major splash at Winter Junior Nationals

Steele makes major splash at Winter Junior NationalsCarolina Forest senior and Coastal Aquatic Club swimmer Taylor Steele [more]

Tigers, Chiefs join forces on North-South gridiron

Tigers, Chiefs join forces on North-South gridironThe best local high school football matchup was never played [more]

Strand to host two-week holiday hoops-apalooza

Strand to host two-week holiday hoops-apaloozaChristmas Day is only eight days away, and you know [more]

Wrestling: WB takes Shark Duels; NMB wins Hampton

Wrestling: WB takes Shark Duels; NMB wins HamptonWest Brunswick, the lone North Carolina team in the tournament, [more]

Comments are closed.

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