Bubble Watch: Clemson Basketball Must Beat Pittsburgh Panthers

By Gregory Philson
Clemson Tigers
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Clemson Tigers were not highly regarded before the season and have yet to gain any real support during a year that has put coach Brad Brownell‘s squad in position for a possible 20-win campaign.

The Tigers’ support has not come in from outsiders mostly because the offense is one of the worst by the numbers in all of college basketball. The Tigers rank 335th in points per game at 62.7, and there are only 345 qualifying teams. This number is pathetically low and in a league where the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels have put up big scoring numbers, it looks even worse.

The offense is slow, methodical and passing is not even that important. The team only averages 10.2 assists per game and that ranks 331st.

Considering this, it is easy to figure out why no one has the Tigers in the NCAA tournament. These numbers are exactly the reason why the Tigers must beat the Pittsburgh Panthers at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday and win two or more games in the ACC tournament.

What is funny about all of this is that Clemson can do it. The Tigers’ defense is one of the stingiest in the country. It ranks second only to Virginia in points allowed at 56.7, and holds opponents to only 39 percent shooting. While that number is impressive by itself, it made even better because of the competition Clemson plays against.

Clemson is actually one of the few schools that can rely on defense to win games. It has one player — K.J. McDaniels (16.9 PPG) — who scores more than 10 points per game, yet the Tigers have 19 wins and 10 ACC victories. If Clemson beats Pittsburgh, it will have one more conference victory than the Panthers.

The Tigers must beat Pittsburgh, follow it up with a second-day victory in the ACC tournament and then upset another team if they want a chance to earn a bid into the dance.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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