NCAA Basketball Clemson Tigers

Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Clemson Won’t Make The Big Dance

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Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Clemson Won't Make The Big Dance

Bubble Watch: Clemson
Joshua S. Kelly - USATODAY Sports

The last time the Clemson Tigers made the NCAA Tournament was 2011 when they squeaked in as one of the final four at-large teams to receive a bid. The Tigers managed to win their play-in game against UAB before losing to the West Virginia Mountaineers in the round of 64. Clemson finished with a 22-12 record that season in head coach Brad Brownell’s first year at the helm. But since then, the Tigers have endured a pair of disappointing seasons, putting together a record of 29-33 over the past two seasons.

However, Brownell and the Tigers have started to turn the corner this season. They find themselves in the middle of the pack in the ACC and very much on the NCAA Tournament bubble with a realistic chance to play their way into the tournament over the next few weeks. The Tigers have been particularly tough at home this season, including a convincing win over the Duke Blue Devils back in January that has fueled their hopes of earning an at-large bid to The Big Dance.

A recent three-game losing streak has given their tournament hopes a hit, but they play a favorable schedule down the stretch, with four of their final six games coming at home and only one of those games coming against a team that currently has a winning record in conference play. That schedule will give Clemson a shot at reaching the 20-win mark and putting together a resume that could get their name called on Selection Sunday. However, here are five reasons why the Tigers won’t make the NCAA tournament.

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5. The ACC Is At Best A Five-Bid League

Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

Ultimately, the ACC is going to be a monster conference, but there’s no denying this is a down year for the league. Teams like Syracuse, Duke, Virginia, Pittsburgh and most likely North Carolina have locked up invitations to The Big Dance, but the rest of the conference is mediocre. And in a down year for the ACC, they don’t really deserve more than five bids which means bubble teams like Clemson will get left out.

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4. RPI In The 70s

Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

Being that low in the RPI just isn’t going to cut it. Clemson’s strength of schedule isn’t high enough to help its case much either, so unless the Tigers can find a way to climb into the top 50 of the RPI, they won’t be dancing.

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3. Too Reliant On K.J. McDaniels

D.J. McDaniels
Joshua S. Kelly - USATODAY Sports

McDaniels is the only Clemson player averaging double figures this season, and that’s a problem. He’s an all-ACC caliber player, but he’s not going to be able to win every game for them down the stretch by himself. A one-man team can only go so far, and as brilliant as McDaniels has been this season, he’s not going to be able to carry the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament without getting more help.

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2. Losses To Auburn And Notre Dame

Notre Dame Auburn
Matt Cashore - USATODAY Sports

Those two losses are going to kill Clemson’s tournament resume. Notre Dame is a tough team to play on the road, but an NCAA Tournament caliber team shouldn’t lose to them. Nor should a tournament team have an early-season loss to Auburn on their resume. Those losses are tough to justify, and the Tigers haven’t done enough to make up for them which will get their resume tossed out by the selection committee.

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1. Only One Marquee Win

Joshua S. Kelly - USATODAY Sports

Other than a win over Duke early in the conference season, the Tigers have nothing to hang their hat on that will jump out on their tournament resume. Other than the regular season finale against Pittsburgh and the ACC Tournament, Clemson won’t have any chances to add quality wins to its resume, and they need at least two or three more to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.