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ACC Tournament Preview 2017: Clemson Tigers Preview

The Tigers are not as bad as their record indicates.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

For the next several days, the Tar Heel Blog staff will be previewing each ACC team heading into the ACC Tournament. We’ll be highlighting how the season has gone for each team, and discussing the state of each school heading into the postseason.

Clemson Tigers

Overall Record: 16-14

Conference record: 6-12

Biggest wins: @South Carolina (62-60), Wake Forest (95-83)

Worst losses: @ Louisville (92-60), @ Florida St (109-61)

Key players: Jaron Blossomgame (17.6 pts, 6.2 reb)

Chance of making NCAA Tournament: Better than some wish. Not as good as the Tigers had hoped.

Do not wag your finger at Roy Williams. In January, Clemson Coach Brad Brownell decided to get all kind of self-righteous after a close overtime defeat to the Heels. Likely frustrated at letting a signature win slip through the Tigers’ grasp, Brownell wanted to lecture Williams over a few choice words that Kennedy Meeks (allegedly) may or may not have vocalized towards Clemson fans or players.

Side note: Between that incident and Rick Pitino acting like a child after being told, “You suck!”, I weep for the supposed toughness and “lessons” some college programs are teaching. But I digress.

Instead of capitalizing on what should have been an encouraging moment in an early ACC season, the Tigers essentially collapsed. That loss was the first in a string of six consecutive defeats. Clemson never really recovered. Truthfully, that’s unfortunate.

Stacked with experience and often starting four upperclassmen, expectations were high for this year’s Clemson’s team. In Brownell’s seventh season on the sideline, most fans thought the pieces were in place for a respectable ACC showing. Instead, anything short of a deep ACC tournament run will likely keep the Tigers out of the NCAA tournament for a fifth consecutive season.

While there have been some extremely disappointing clunkers, like losing to Florida State by 47, the most frustrating aspect for the Tigers has been the number of close games they have failed to close out. Mixed in with the occasion blowout are eight losses against FSU (second game), Duke, Virginia, Syracuse and Virginia Tech (twice). Those eight losses were by a combined 31 points. Five of those losses were by two points or less.

This year has not gone exactly according to plan. Yet, somehow Clemson is still ranked 36th overall at KenPom.com. Clemson is not as bad as their record suggests. But this is a season that likely won’t be good enough. However, with a ridiculously soft bubble, one or two key wins in the ACC tournament may be enough for them to sneak in.