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Opinion: Tigers’ tough February slate offers chance to flip the script

William Stehn
The Tigers, now sitting at 14-7 (4-6 ACC), have the opportunity to turn their fortunes around in the next month as they head into a tough slate of conference opponents. Pictured is star center PJ Hall taking a tipoff against Virginia in the Tigers’ 66-65 loss on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Coming off of a tough home loss to Virginia, Clemson faces an intimidating conference schedule in February. But with that tough slate ahead, the Tigers have a path to prove the doubters wrong and flip the script.

Clemson currently holds a record of 14-7 (4-6 ACC) and is in 11th place in conference standings. While a low-ranking place may appear disappointing, it is not a reason to panic just yet — February is the month when teams separate themselves as tournament contenders, and the Tigers have the schedule to prove just that.

The ACC is known as one of the toughest college basketball conferences; for years, dominated by teams like Duke and North Carolina. This season is as competitive as ever. There are only three teams in the ACC that have won three or fewer games in conference play — Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Louisville — the first of which defeated the Tigers and the last of which came within six points.

Inevitably, this suggests that Clemson has a brutal conference schedule.

The Tigers have already played a handful of notable teams, such as North Carolina, Duke and Miami. Their upcoming schedule is no walk in the park, as Clemson’s upcoming opponents in February have a combined record of 97-55. Looking ahead, the Tigers will take on the No. 3-ranked Tar Heels on Tuesday and have Miami and NC State over the next two weeks — three opportunities to earn valuable wins.

This is the time of year when wins and losses are not always weighed evenly — if the Tigers lose a few of their games in the coming weeks, their highly respected schedule could allow those losses to be less meaningful than their wins, thanks to schedule strength.

February will be the month when the Tigers figure out their identity and whether or not they will be a legitimate tournament team.

ESPN’s bracketology has Clemson projected as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, facing off against No. 10 seed Nebraska. These projections often change throughout the season, but current standings offer an idea of how the tournament committee views head coach Brad Brownell and his team.

One year ago, in the heat of the 2022-23 season, Clemson was 18-4 (9-3 ACC) while heading into a tough matchup against Miami, who went on to become a Final Four team. Clemson ended up losing, and the season took a turn for the worse as the Tigers finished 23-11 (14-6 ACC).

The next two months will offer a chance to change the narrative.

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Jose Zarraluqui, Senior Reporter
William Stehn
William Stehn, Asst. Photo Editor
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  • M

    MariaFeb 6, 2024 at 9:14 pm

    Love the article so positive and full of hope. GO TiGERS!

  • B

    BeaFeb 6, 2024 at 8:58 pm

    Clemson fan. Love his articles.