Editor’s Note: Sorry for the lack of a Virginia Tech recap, folks. I move back in today so it’s been a little busy around here.
That last game never happened, right? Or even the one before it, yeah? Good, we’re settled.
Now, on to Clemson. We’re gonna do this preview quick and dirty. They’re ranked 43rd in KenPom’s rankings, while Maryland is still 18th (in his defense, VTech is 17th). Their two best wins came against Miami and Georgia Tech (at the tail end of a eight-game winning streak), and they have lost to Old Dominion, Michigan, South Carolina, Florida State, and North Carolina.
Guard Tanner Smith, averaging 8.6 points per game and a key player for the Tigers, will miss the game due to an injury. Clemson will have only nine scholarship players available this afternoon.
The Tigers have three players averaging double-digit points this year – Demontez Stitt (13.3), Jerai Grant (12.3 with 6.9 rebounds) and Andre Young (10.7). Devin Booker, the younger brother of recently graduated superstar Trevor, is averaging 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore, and Milton Jennings is averaging 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Junior Bryan Narcisse is expected to make his first start of the season in place of Smith. The 6’6″ guard/forward is averaging 3.3 points in 10.4 minutes per game this year – both career highs by a respectable margin.
Like Maryland, the Tigers specialize in defense, ranking 34th in the nation in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency (Maryland ranks second). However, Clemson has a more effective offense than the Terps, and match up well size-wise on the inside. Grant, a 6’8″ senior from Bowie, is one of the most underrated players in the ACC, and has scored at least 15 in seven of his last nine games. He’s one of the most effective low-post scorers in the nations, and is an extremely effective blocker.
If Maryland finally learns how to score against a 2-3 zone, maybe the Terps have a shot. I’ve been so optimistic lately with my predictions, but that stops now (and hopefully, Maryland’s losing streak stops with it). KenPom predicts a 69-60 Maryland win, giving the Terps a 79% chance of winning it. I say Clemson 72, Maryland 65.