Day & Time: Wednesday, January 9 at 8 p.m. EST
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Line: Syracuse opened as a four-point favorite and according to ESPN’s BPI, SU has a 71.4-percent chance of winning.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network (check your local affiliate)/ACC Network Extra
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Clemson blog: Shakin’ the Southland
Rivalry: 3-4, Clemson (What the what?)
Current Streak: 2, Orange
First Meeting: Syracuse tipped off the 1960-61 season against Clemson on a neutral court, and it proceeded to lose, 78-67. It was an omen as the Orangemen would go on to finish with a 4-19 record. In that opener, Pete “Chudman” (no idea if that was his real nickname, but I like it) Chudy led the way with 19 points.
Afterward, Tiger fans ran from the stands and met each other at center court, but they repeatedly told everyone, “don’t worry, we do this after every game. It’s not a big deal.”
Last Meeting: In what might have been a win-or-no-tourney game, Syracuse held off No. 18 Clemson, 55-52, inside the Dome in the regular-season finale last March.
It was the “best” win of the season for the Orange, which was coming off a shocking 15-point beat down at Boston College. That victory coupled with a win over Wake Forest in the ACC tourney might very well have been what propel SU into March Madness.
In the defeat of the Tigers, SU was led by sophomore Tyus Battle and freshman Oshae Brissett, both scoring 17 points. During the contest, Battle reached a major milestone by surpassing the 1,000-point plateau for his career.
Syracuse was able to turn around a poor-shooting first half (Battle, Brissett and Frank Howard made just 5 of 19 attempts collectively), to grab control of the game in the second. Battle led the charge, scoring eight-straight points early on after halftime.
Still, Gabe DeVoe missed what would have been a game-tying by inches right the at the final horn. DeVoe had a nightmare of a time against the Orange’s defense, shooting 2 for 13 from the field, 0 for six from three. The 2-3 zone of Syracuse stymied the Tigers all game. In fact, Marcquise Reed (21 points total) and Elijah Thomas (18 points total) were the only two Clemson players to score in the second half.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (43rd year, 1,035-374); Clemson: Brad Brownell (9th year, 159–117, 326–202 overall)
Coach Bio: Brownell wrapped up his playing career at DePaul, then jumped into coaching as an assistant at Evansville. He went from there to Indianapolis, then UNC-Wilmington. After eight years as an assistant with the Seahawks, he got the head job in 2002. Two Colonial Athletic titles in four years led him to Wright State. Brownell made the NCAAs in year one, then fell short for three straight seasons after. Clemson grabbed him from there, and since he arrived, he’s made just one NCAA Tournament (2011) -- though has only had a losing record once.
Last Year: Clemson finished the season 25-10 and 11-7 in the ACC. It was a banner year for Clemson. The 25 victories were tied for most ever in a single season for the school. The 11 conference victories? The most ever for the Tigers.
Brownell’s team shook off a late-season loss at Syracuse to advance all the way to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. After beating New Mexico State and Auburn in the Big Dance, the Tigers bowed out to Kansas, 80-76.
Starting 12-1 in 2017-18, Clemson found itself among the top-25 in early January. The Tigers, rose in the rankings all the way to No. 11 before suffering a three-game losing streak in mid-February. Despite that tough stretch, Clemson never left the Land of the Ranked all the way to the end.
Five players averaged double figures in scoring through the season, led by Marcquise Reed, who scored 15.8 per game.
Last game: Yooooo!!!
Zion Williamson did Zion Williamson things as Duke railroaded Clemson in Durham, 87-68. On top of the “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!???” 360, Williamson also scored 25 points in total and grabbed 10 boards for the Blue Devils.
Duke took a seven-point lead into the break and ran away with it in the second half. It was mainly through, as evidenced by the video, defense. Clemson turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 27 points for the home team. R.J. Barrett finished with 12, Tre Jones 10, and Jack White 12 for the Devils.
In the loss, the Tigers were paced by Marcquise Reed’s 15 points. The defeat halting a four game win streak for Clemson.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Reed scored 21 points in the Dome in March and was 5 of 7 from distance in the loss. His play helped the Tigers stay within striking distance of the Orange, especially so in the second half.
So far this season, the senior guard is leading the Tigers in scoring (19.6), assists (4) and steals (2). Also, while only hitting at 32 percent from three, Reed connects on nearly 50 percent of his shots from the field. He is a play-maker and someone Syracuse needs to find when on defense at all times.
David Skara could be an interesting threat for Syracuse, too. A senior forward, Skara has scored in double figures in three of Clemson’s last five games. He’s also close to a 46-percent shooter from deep, making 6 of 12 in the previous three games.
If Syracuse Wins: The Orange continues on the path of positivity. It’s a new year and potentially a new Syracuse. A victory over the Tigers, much like the win at Notre Dame last weekend, obviously won’t signal any Earth-shattering breakthrough for the Orange, and it still won’t be back in the top-25s of the world. But defeating Clemson gets SU to 2-0 in the ACC. Ultimately, these types of games could be what gives Syracuse enough of a strong case to the make the NCAA Tournament come March.
If Syracuse Loses: It would be puzzling to say the least. The Tigers seem about as NCAA Tourney bubble as it gets right now. Yes, Clemson currently carries a ranking of 36 according to Kenpom, but it hasn’t beaten any one of true note. While having more (healthy) weapons than Notre Dame, this is a winnable home game in the ACC and those simply can’t be taken for granted in Syracuse’s case.
Fun Fact No. 1: I find this to be absolutely amazing: the entire senior class for Clemson in 1917 enlisted for World War I. No jokes here. I don’t care if the senior class consisted of two people, that is impressive as anything you’ll read here.
Fun Fact No. 2: And 180 degrees from that: Robert Cook Edwards held the position of president of Clemson University for the longest period of time, 1958 through 1979. That’s great. But according to the school, the former pres also allowed for streaking to be legal one day per year. On that particular day, there would be no legal consequence for anyone who dropped trou and ran about full-birthday-suit.
That’s one hell of a fun fact, people. Leave your tips on the table when you leave.