After coming off a road win at Notre Dame, the Syracuse Orange move on to play four of its next five ACC games at home. Syracuse gets that home stand started tonight with the Clemson Tigers who lost to Duke in its ACC opener.
Now perhaps you’ve heard, but the Clemson football program
won a big game Monday night has not lost a regular season game since taking a big L to Syracuse in 2017. Perhaps you’ve also heard of TNIAAM’s frenemies and storied history with those down at Shakin The Southland, otherwise known as SB Nation’s Clemson blog.
We brought on our guy Drew Schneider of STS to preview the basketball game tonight to discuss the personnel of this hoops squad, some key returnees and to predict a winner.
TNIAAM: Clemson started the preseason ranked and like Syracuse has fallen outside of the rankings. What’s happened there?
Shakin The Southland: They haven’t done a good job of stepping up to good/decent competition. The inability to hit 3’s paired with the inability to keep the other team from hitting 3’s has doomed Clemson against better teams. Losing Marcquise Reed for a few games with a knee injury also didn’t help matters.
TNIAAM: How is LittleJohn looking these days post renovation?
STS: It looks like an actual basketball arena where a team interested in winning basketball plays. The sight lines are better, the seating is better, everything is new and shiny. It was worth the season Clemson spent playing in Greenville.
TNIAAM: You guys almost lost Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell to the draft and David Skara to pro ball in Croatia. How has the return of those three helped?
STS: It’s always nice to have and experienced back court, and Clemson has one of the most experienced back courts in the nation. Losing Skara seemed like a done deal before he had a last minute change of heart. He’s been a huge addition, as his offensive game has finally started to catch up with his defense.
TNIAAM: Brownell said on Monday’s ACC teleconference that Reed is still hampered by his knee and will be wearing a brace Wednesday. How has that affected his play?
STS: Reed has never been the most athletic player on the court, and having a heavily braced knee hasn’t helped much. He’s had to lean even more on his old man mid range game because it’s been a struggle for him to finish at the rim since his injury.
TNIAAM: Elijah Thomas is a problem inside. What does he bring to the table?
STS: He’s like a dancing bear. At least twice a game I find myself amazed that a man that big can move that quickly. He’s always been a load in the low post, but he’s added the ability to drive less agile big men this season. Thomas also provides Clemson with a steady presence on the offensive glass.
TNIAAM: This team shoots it well from two and not well from three. What gives?
STS: Gabe Devoe was the shooter for Clemson last year, and he’s no longer on the team. Mitchell has a consistently inconsistent jump shot and it’s been more cold than hot this year. Reed is a better mid range shooter than an outside threat. David Skara has been a pleasant surprise from the outside, but Clemson was counting on Amir Simms to be a stretch 4 this year, and that hasn’t materialized.
TNIAAM: What happened at Duke on Saturday?
STS: Clemson played them well for a half and then got blitzed coming out of the locker room in the second half. Clemson has struggled against athletic teams, and Duke, well, they’ve got a few athletes on their roster.
TNIAAM: Syracuse has struggled rebounding at times this season. Can Clemson get on the glass in this one?
STS: It really depends on Eli Thomas and his ability to stay out of foul trouble. When Eli is in the game, Clemson can compete on the boards. When he’s on the bench, Clemson struggles.
TNIAAM: Who wins, what’s the final score and why?
Syracuse is going to make Clemson hit 3’s to win, and Clemson won’t be able to hit enough of them.
Thanks to Drew for answering these questions. What do you guys think? Will Clemson takes its third straight loss to Syracuse in basketball or will the Tigers handle business on the road? Can Syracuse get the dancing bear into foul trouble and on the flip-side limit itself from fouling the dancing bear?
Drop a comment or two below.