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NCAA Basketball Clemson Tigers

Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Clemson Will Make the Tournament

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Clemson Will Get Into the NCAA Tournament

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I love all sports, but my favorite time of year has always been the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. I have put together March Madness pools for as long as I can remember. I follow college basketball, and I have finished both first and last in my pool ... and almost everywhere else in between. I’ll possibly have an opportunity to express my love for the NCAA tournament in more detail as we get closer to Selection Sunday, but for now let’s focus on the Clemson Tigers.

Full disclosure: I’m a Clemson University graduate and a diehard fan of the Tigers, so I want Clemson to make the NCAA tournament, even if it means I’ll get a migraine trying to figure out their portion of the bracket and how far I should have my Tigers advance.

Right now, Clemson is on the bubble. ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest predictions (as of Feb. 13) have Clemson listed as the next four out. Clemson had an abysmal 2012-13 season, finishing 13-18 overall and 5-13 in the ACC. This season, the Tigers are 15-8 overall and 6-5 in the ACC. Clemson made the tournament four consecutive times between 2008-2011, but only advanced out of the first round once, in 2011.

The purpose of this article is not to focus on Clemson’s lack of success in the tournament in the past, but rather to provide reasons why, as they sit on the bubble, the Tigers can make the tournament this season. Yes, Clemson has lost key leaders and performers, including Trevor Booker, Andre Young , Devin Booker, Milton Jennings and Tanner Smith, but other players have stepped up since they have left the Clemson program. Two key contributors will be highlighted later.

Like I said before, I’m a huge Clemson fan, but I can provide actual reasons why Clemson can and will make the NCAA tournament this season.

Here are five of those reasons.

Justin Patrick is a New England Patriots writer for Follow him on Twitter @calling_allfans, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Clemson Plays In The ACC

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The ACC has always been a pretty tough basketball conference, and it only got stronger with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh (Louisville joins next season). Currently, Lunardi has six ACC teams in the field, tied with the Big Ten and Pac-12. Only the Big 12 has more with seven.

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4. Clemson Beat Duke

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Clemson beat the Duke Blue Devils at home in Littlejohn 72-59 when Duke was ranked no. 16. Duke is now ranked no. 8. I was at that game, and in the second half, Clemson severely outplayed Duke in almost every facet. The Tigers out rebounded the Blue Devils and shot better from the field. I cannot stand Duke, but even I can admit that Duke almost always has a strong team, and they have one of the best players in country this year in Jabari Parker. No one can argue against that victory being a quality win.

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3. Rod Hall

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Rod Hall is a 6-foot-1 junior guard from Augusta, GA. This season, he is averaging 2.2 BLKPG and 9.0 PPG. Hall’s assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.84 with 3.7 APG and 1.3 TPG, so he is pretty good at protecting the rock.

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2. Clemson Is Strong At Home

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It’s no secret that Clemson is better at home when Littlejohn is rocking, and five of their last seven games this season are at home. A Clemson victory vs. no. 17 Virginia would be another quality win, as would a win against no. 25 Pittsburgh on March 8, also at home.

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1. K.J. McDaniels

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K.J. McDaniels is a 6-foot-6 forward from Birmingham, AL. This season, McDaniels is averaging 7.5 RPG, 2.7 BLKPG, 1.1 STLPG and 17.0 PPG. He can play from anywhere and plays both sides of the floor extremely well. McDaniels can get hot at any time, and he could help carry the Tigers into the NCAA tournament this season.