Date & Time: Tuesday, January 28 at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, S.C.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has a 44.2% chance of winning against Clemson. I don’t like those odds... nor the odds where Clemson opened at minus-1.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 4-5, Clemson
Current Streak: 1, Clemson
First Meeting: These teams first met in 1960, and wouldn’t play again for 47 years. In that first meeting, the Clemson Tigers beat the Orange 78-67 on December 2. The game-high scorer for Syracuse was Peter Chudy with 19 points. Chudy averaged 20.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the season. Super bonus fun fact: Legendary halfback Ernie Davis appeared in nine games for the 1960 Syracuse basketball team. He pulled in a team-best 9.6 rebounds per contest, and also averaged 10.2 points per game.
Last Meeting: The Orange and Tigers met twice last year and split the season series a game a piece. The second of the two games was played at Clemson on March 9, where the Tigers dismantled the Syracuse Orange, 67-55 in the final regular season game. Oshae Brissett led SU in scoring with 15 points in a game where Tyus Battle sustained a bruised hip that kept him out of both games of the ACC Tournament.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,058-386 at SU) | Clemson - Brad Brownell (10th Year, 179-136 at Clemson)
Coach Bio: Brad Brownell is in his 10th season as the Clemson Tigers head coach. He is the 7th longest tenured coach in the ACC and is coming off of back-to-back 20-plus win seasons.
Overall, Brownell has won 179 games for Clemson which is the most of any basketball coach the Tigers have ever had. He’s made the NCAA Tournament twice (including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen two years ago), the NIT thrice, and has four 20+ win seasons with the Tigers.
Unfortunately for Brownell, this year’s team struggled early and has been very hit-or-miss in conference play. They’ve lost to several middling-or-worse teams including Miami, South Carolina, and Minnesota. They also have a big win over Duke and a three-game sweep of the Blue Devils, Tar Heels, and Wolfpack.
Last Year: The Tigers went 20-14 and 9-9 in the ACC conference, narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament as one of the first teams left out. Clemson was led by Marquise Reed who averaged 19.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Last Game: A blowout loss to Louisville, 80-62. I’m not sure how much there is to really learn from the game aside from the fact that Louisville is very good this year, and Clemson is... well, Clemson: inconsistent and offensively challenged.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Clemson’s offense is fairly well-balanced, with nine different players averaging five or more points per game. However, the heart and soul of the Tigers is Aamir Simms.
Simms is averaging 13.8 points and 7.6 rebounds for Clemson, both team highs. He also shoots 38.2 percent from three-point range. He’s not a volume shooter from the outside, as he’s only made 27 on the season, but he will have his opportunities against the zone.
Where he is a real handful is on the interior. Against Duke, Simms had his way with the Blue Devil’s bigs inside, going off for 25 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. He has the potential to give our back line fits if he can get the ball on the interior, and he’ll also be a handful on the offensive glass.
If Syracuse Wins: Think about where we were at the beginning of January, and where we’ll be with a win against Clemson; 5-0 on the road in the ACC, 7-3 overall in conference, and 4th place securely in hand. Could you have imagined that in your wildest dreams three weeks ago? Me either.
Jim Boeheim and staff deserve credit for the how they’ve been able to mold this young and occasionally awkward group of players into a real contender in the ACC. The progression for players like Elijah Hughes, Joe Girard, Marek Dolezaj, and Buddy Boeheim is readily apparent and quite impressive already. Even the role players like Quincy Guerrier, Howard Washington, and Brycen Goodine are starting to contribute more consistently or at least showing some promise. Let’s not forget Bourama Sidibe, who is coming off two of the best games in his career.
Every single player on this team should be damned proud of what they’ve accomplished already. A win here and things really start to get interesting.
If Syracuse Loses:
This has all the makings of a trap game. With Duke on the horizon and the team riding high, a let down here could be in the cards. Clemson is a solid rebounding team that plays tough defense. They beat Duke at Duke. There’s a real chance we lose this game.
While this would still be a bad loss, as every single game from here through the end of the season is incredibly valuable, it’s not the end of the world. It would most likely end up as a Q2 road loss, nothing that would drastically rock our bubble chances. But obviously every loss from here on out hurts. We’re already at seven and can’t afford many more.
Let’s just win instead.
Fun Fact 1: The Orange and the Tigers only met twice before Syracuse joined the ACC. Clemson won both match-ups, but the Orange have since gone 4-3 in conference play.
Fun Fact 2: Harvey Grant, father to SU-alum Jerami Grant, and Horace Grant (Jerami’s uncle), are both former Clemson players and former first-round NBA draft picks. Horace would go on to become a four-time NBA champion and make four All-NBA defensive teams.