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Tigers search for first Final Four appearance against Crimson Tide

Toby Corriston
Forward Chauncey Wiggins (left) and guard Dillon Hunter (right) celebrate on the bench during the game against Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 24, 2024.

The Clemson men’s basketball team is on the precipice of punching its ticket to the Final Four, marking the Tiger’s furthest trip in the big dance in team history. To achieve such a historic feat, Clemson must take down star guard Mark Sears and the formidable No. 4-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide coming off of upsetting the No.1-seeded North Carolina Tarheels by a score of 89-87.

The Tigers’ underdog identity will continue heading into their Elite Eight matchup, once again facing the most efficient offenses in college basketball. The Crimson Tide ranked first overall in scoring offenses this year with 90.7 points per game and produced the highest-scoring game of the tournament in their first-round match, defeating the College of Charleston 109-96.

Clemson has fared well against high-powered offenses thus far, recently defeating the third-best offense in the country, the Arizona Wildcats, who averaged 87.1 points per game. The Tigers held them well under this average, only allowing 72 points in the Sweet 16 matchup.

For Brownell and the Tigers to continue their run in the Big Dance, they must control the pace of the game, running their offensive sets and taking sustainable shots to stop Sears and Alabama’s elite backcourt from pushing it in transition and creating defensive confusion for the Tigers.

The duo of PJ Hall and Ian Schieffelin is a must-have on offense for the Tigers. Putting pressure on Alabama’s big men, Grant Nelson and Nick Pringle, is crucial against the overall underachieving Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide are averaging 81.1 points allowed per game, ranking 346th out of 351 total teams in that category.

The Tigers’ starting backcourt duo, Chase Hunter and Joseph Girard III, must replicate its success from the team’s first meeting with Alabama in November when they scored a combined 31 points and shot 58.3% from the 3-point line. Hall also had four blocks, and forward RJ Godfrey stepped up, scoring double digits off of the bench to help spearhead the Tigers to the 85-77 win.

With such a historied matchup favoring the Tigers 8-4 with their first matchup dating back to 1930, Saturday’s Elite Eight matchup arguably has the most at stake, with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

As Clemson looks to keep dancing through March and put themselves in a place no other Clemson team has been before, Alabama is just one more piece to the ultimate puzzle of a national championship.

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About the Contributors
Malone Kinard-Huisinger
Malone Kinard-Huisinger, Senior Reporter
Toby Corriston, Asst. Photo Editor
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