If you ever wanted to talk about ‘must-win’ games, that’s exactly what Clemson basketball faces this Sunday as the Tigers take on the Syracuse Orange.
The Clemson basketball team escaped an ugly game against Notre Dame on the road Wednesday night. Though the Tigers didn’t play their best basketball, they did what they needed to do to win and hit some clutch shots and free-throws down the stretch.
For the first time all season, the Tigers won a close game and that has to be encouraging for the team as they move forward.
On Saturday, Clemson basketball will play the biggest game of the season.
There’s no more room for error or losses. The Tigers must beat Syracuse at home Saturday to stay alive for the NCAA Tournament.
That’s a lot of pressure, but I don’t think you could’ve asked for much better after what has been a disappointing season thus far.
To beat Syracuse, you have to beat the zone. The Orange are going to force you to make shots and Clemson has to find a way to knock down some threes and beat that defense.
The good news is that it’s a lot easier to knock down shots at home. The bad news is that Syracuse is really good at making shooters uncomfortable and the Tigers scored just 53 points when the two teams matched up in New York about two months ago.
Honestly, Clemson does not match up well with Syracuse. But, none of that matters heading into Saturday.
Whether it’s by one point or by 20 points, the Tigers have to find a way to win. A loss would basically eliminate them from the NCAA Tournament barring a miracle run deep into the ACC Tournament.
Should the Tigers beat Syracuse on Saturday, they will match up with NC State in the 8-vs.-9 matchup in the ACC Tournament. That game may very well prove to be a play-in game into the tournament.
Clemson basketball needs to transform into post-season mode. Even though the regular season still has one game remaining, this needs to be treated as an elimination game.
Because that’s exactly what it is.