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Preview: Tigers host Fighting Irish in decisive regular season finale

Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell walks off the court in Littlejohn Coliseum following his 400th career win after beating Duke on Jan. 14, 2023.

The Clemson men’s basketball team will play its final game at Littlejohn Coliseum this season on Saturday, and it’s arguably one of the most important.

The Tigers (21-9, 13-6 ACC) will welcome the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-19, 3-16 ACC) with senior night festivities set to happen before tipoff as well.

The game has huge ACC Tournament implications, as a win for the Tigers on Saturday would guarantee a top-four seed in the conference’s regular season standings and a double-bye to start the tournament. If Clemson loses and Duke defeats North Carolina, the Tigers would be the No. 5 seed and only receive a first-round bye. 

The win is also essential for the NCAA Tournament, as the team likely needs to come away victorious to keep their March Madness hopes alive.

Coming off of a tough 64-57 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers on Tuesday, the Tigers will look to bounce back against the Irish, who are in second to last place in the ACC standings. 

“Give credit to Virginia, I thought they played very well tonight.” Brownell said after the loss. “I thought both teams played exceptionally hard, but they played a little better than we did. They are very good defensively, and they are hard to get a good rhythm against.”

Despite the loss, the Clemson frontcourt found some positives earlier this week. Center PJ Hall continued a great stretch of games, as the junior standout led all scorers with 19 points and nine rebounds against the Cavaliers. Forward Hunter Tyson followed with 17 points and nine boards as well.

Despite their conference record, the Fighting Irish have surprised the college basketball world as of late. In legendary head coach Mike Brey’s final home game in South Bend, Indiana, the Irish upset the first-place Pittsburgh Panthers on Tuesday night, winning 88-81. In his final regular season game as a head coach, Brey will do whatever he can to prevent a loss to cap off his 23 years at Notre Dame.

However, the Tigers can take advantage of the Irish’s defense, which has allowed 71.8 points per game. Before Tuesday night’s game against Virginia, Clemson eclipsed the 90-point mark in three of four games, including a 96-point performance against NC State.  

Some players at Notre Dame who can cause trouble are Nate Laszewski, Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin. Laszewski, a forward, leads the team in points and rebounds, averaging 14.1 and 7.2, respectively, and shoots over 40% from 3-point range. Ryan averages 11.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, while Goodwin adds 11.7 points per game to make up the backcourt for the Irish.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. EST at Littlejohn, and the game will be broadcasted on ACC Network.

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Griffin Barfield
Griffin Barfield, Asst. Sports Editor
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