March Madness: Projecting the Clemson Tigers’ ACC Tournament Path


March Madness is nearly upon us. Can the Clemson Tigers make an ACC Tournament run and earn a bid to the Big Dance?

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The Clemson Tigers‘ NCAA Tournament odds may not be great right now, but the great thing about March Madness is everyone has some hope.

Like everyone else, all the Tigers have to do to earn a bid to the Big Dance is win a few games in a row in their conference tournament.

In Clemson’s case, that may be unlikely, but much crazier things have happened this time of the year.

Clemson is currently in a four-way battle for the six-seed in the ACC Tournament, with Miami, NC State, and Pittsburgh. Each team is 8-8 with two games left and, to add some intrigue, each will play one of the other four before the season’s end.

Clemson hosts NC State tonight. Miami will travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow.

In this four-team mini-conference, Miami is the only team to not lose a game, so if the ACC Tournament began today, the Hurricanes would take the six seed. Clemson, at 2-1 against the group, would take the seven seed.

Let’s assume the Tigers do end up finishing seventh. What would their path through the ACC Tournament look like?

After a first-round bye, the Tigers would face the 10 seed in the second round. Right now, that’s Florida State.

The Seminoles are 7-10 in conference play so far this year, with a game against Pittsburgh still to come. They faced Clemson twice this season and split the series.

Clemson would most likely be favored in this match-up. A win would advance the Tigers to the third round, to face the tournament’s No. 2 seed.

That team will probably be Duke.

The Blue Devils are 26-3 and 13-3 in conference play. In their only meeting, the Blue Devils stomped Clemson, 78-56.

(This might be a good time to point out that it would be a very, very good thing for the Tigers to win the six seed. That would mean a third-round match-up with Notre Dame, if the tournament started today. Clemson was much more competitive with Notre Dame in their only meeting that they were with Duke, losing by only two points.)

Duke will also be playing their first game after a double bye, so there is no hope of the Blue Devils stumbling before the third round. If Clemson won in the second round, the match-up would be set in stone.

But let’s say the Tigers get some momentum from their second-round victory and catch Duke off guard. That sort of thing happens to teams coming off double byes all the time, so it’s not completely out of the question.

That would put Clemson in the ACC Tournament final, where the Tigers’ opponent would probably be Virginia.

The Cavaliers clinched the No. 1 seed with a victory over Syracuse on Monday night. They are now 28-1 on the year and 16-1 in conference play, with the only loss coming to Duke.

Needless to say, Clemson’s chances of winning in the ACC championship round will be much better if someone upsets the Cavaliers in the third round. They will face the winner of the second-round eight-vs-nine match-up. In the scenario we’ve been working with, that would probably be Pittsburgh or NC State.

However, Virginia is 28-1 for a reason. They are probably the best team in the ACC this year and a national title contender. Duke is probably the only team with a decent chance of keeping the Cavaliers from a second-straight ACC title.

But anything can happen in one game. Clemson upsetting Virginia would probably be the biggest shocker of the conference tournament season in 2015, but it wouldn’t come close to the biggest upset ever.

Clemson may need some late-season magic to get into the NCAA Tournament in 2015, but there is still some hope.

How far do you expect the Clemson Tigers to go in the ACC Tournament? Sound off in the comments below or vote in our poll.

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