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The Big Dance: Clemson’s NCAA Tournament Chances Are Becoming Slim

Savannah N. Miller, Photo Editor
Senior guard Jordan Roper (20) defends against a Notre Dame player earlier this month.

“Obviously this one hurts. But we’re not focused on that right now. We have

to bounce back. We’ve got another opportunity on Tuesday,” Clemson Tigers’ forward Jaron Blossomgame told reporters after Saturday’s loss to the NC State Wolfpack. He quoted directly addressing  the inevitable — Clemson’s diminishing NCAA Tournament hopes.

In a Bracketology update the night following the loss that dropped the Tigers to a mediocre 16-11 overall and a less-than-stellar 9-6 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, ESPN college basketball expert Joe Lunardi listed the Tigers as being among the “Next Four Out” of the NCAA Tournament. This is a step below the “First Four Out” grouping that the Tigers were a

part of prior to Saturday’s loss.

Clemson’s NCAA Tournament hopes have been in steady decline over the month of February, as the Tigers have gone 3-3 thus far this month, with all three victories coming against teams at the bottom of the ACC standings. 

Clemson experienced a spectacular January, beating ranked opponent after ranked opponent. However, their woeful December, left the Tigers with a lot of work to do over the final month and a half of the regular season to lock up an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

The Tigers have definitely become inconsistent; the offense has its up and downs, as does the defense. Therefore, the team likely does not appeal to the NCAA Tournament selection committee at the present time, as the Big Dance is supposed to feature teams playing as well as they have played

all year late in the regular season. 

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they seem to have peaked in January, two months too soon.

Clemson is plagued with disconcerting issues that are preventing the team from playing quality basketball. Brad Brownell shed light on one major issue following Saturday’s matchup. 

“We didn’t have enough other guys score,” he said. 

“We can’t have one guy score 33 points and nobody else get in double figures.” 

Referring to the aforementioned Blossomgame, who scored a career-high 33 points against the Wolfpack, Brownell is exactly right. Blossomgame has been spectacular for the past month and a half, but his fellow starters have severely fallen off in terms of offensive production since the January winning streak came to an end. Again, the selection committee is looking for all-around quality basketball teams, not one-man shows.

The Tigers are running out of time, as March is nearly here. 

Of course, an automatic bid for March Madness would be earned should Clemson win the ACC Tournament in mid-March. But if the Tigers’ recent play is any indication, the chances of that happening are

very slim. 

Furthermore, the chances of the Tigers receiving an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament seem to be growing slimmer with each passing game. 

Clemson must develop a sense of consistency and return to its winning ways of January, or when the invitations to the Big Dance are handed out on March 13, the Tigers are going to be left out in the cold.

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