Teams: Syracuse Orange (15-9, 7-4) vs. Clemson Tigers (13-9, 3-7)
Day & Time: Tuesday, February 6, 8 p.m. ET
Venue: Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, S.C.
Line: N/A just yet
TV: ACC Network Extra
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Clemson Blog: Shakin’ the Southland
Rivalry: 4-1, Clemson (wut)
Current Streak: 2, Clemson
First Meeting: A pretty bad (4-19) Syracuse team played Clemson in December of 1960 and it didn’t go well. The Orangemen’s Pete Chudy scored 19, but SU lost 78-67. They wouldn’t meet against for nearly 50 years.
Last Meeting: With the game seemingly in hand, SU just... let it completely slip away vs. the Tigers at the Carrier Dome last year. They lost in overtime 74-73, and we were pretty sure the season was done for right then and there (it was not). Mike Hopkins noted afterward, "Dad might be a little upset. I have to give the car back, and that's going to be hard."
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (41st Year, 1,000-351); Clemson: Brad Brownell (7th Year, 120-98)
Head Coach Bio: Brownell played at DePauw (D-III), and then went right into coaching after that. From 1991-2002, he was an assistant at Evansville, Indianapolis and UNC-Wilmington before getting the full-time gig with UNC-W. He was an immediate success, going 24-7 in year one. He’d finish 83-40 there with two NCAA Tournament bids before heading to Wright State.
Wright State won 20 games all four years he coached there, but only made the NCAA Tournament once (his first). That was enough to interest Clemson. He took the Tigers to the second round of the NCAAs in year one.
Since then, things have been good but not great. Clemson’s missed the postseason in four of his six full seasons, and this very well could be the fifth miss in seven tries. His best team may have been the 2013-14 squad, but despite winning 23 games (and 10 in the ACC), that group was NIT-bound instead. They made it to the semifinals that year.
Last Year: The Tigers went 17-14 overall and 10-8 in league play. They were led by the talented Jaron Blossomgame, who managed to impress most nights despite being the focus of every opposing defense.
Last Game: Clemson got smoked by Florida State, 109-61. FSU’s Dwayne Bacon put up 29 points to lead the rout, which was over by halftime (51-25 in favor of the ‘Noles). Blossomgame was held to 11 points on the game.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Again, the obvious choice is a fine one. Blossomgame scores 17.7 points per game to go with 5.6 rebounds as well. The senior also knows how to beat Syracuse, having done so multiple times before. He scored 20 in last year’s win at SU and 15 in 2015. This won’t necessarily be a problem for him.
Still, where this Orange team gets beat is from three — especially once opposing teams identify their hot shooter from distance. All signs point to Avry Holmes, the team’s second-leading scorer (11.5 points per game) being able to get that job done. He’s shooting nearly 44 percent from three (51-for-117) this year, and his accuracy from that distance is actually better than his overall field goal percentage. Watch out for him.
If Syracuse Wins: The Orange win their fifth straight and continue a once-unlikely march toward legitimate NCAA Tournament conversations.
If Syracuse Loses: Clemson isn’t “bad” (they’re 38th in the KenPom rankings right now), but a loss wouldn’t do the Orange any favors whatsoever. Due to a lackluster non-conference showing, SU really needs to take care of business against lesser squads, AND keep grabbing upsets too. Also, road wins are lacking on Syracuse’s resume, so another one of those is sort of essential.
Fun Fact No. 1: The venue Littlejohn Coliseum is named for the school’s first business manager, James Corcoran Littlejohn. Would’ve been cooler if it was named for Lil’ Jon instead, but I digress.
Fun Fact No. 2: Clemson has made the NCAA Tournament just 11 times in its history. “SAD!”