Clemson Basketball: Can the Tigers backdoor their way into NCAA Tournament?


Could the Clemson basketball team somehow miraculously backdoor its way into the 2020 NCAA Tournament? The possibility is there.

Let’s be honest, this Clemson basketball season may have been the weirdest in quite some time.

The Tigers beat elite-level opponents like Florida State, Louisville and Duke, but then have also turned around and lost to teams like Georgia Tech, Miami, South Carolina and Yale. There’s just no consistency.

Despite the inconsistency, the Clemson basketball team played its way into the bubble conversation with a win over Florida State on Saturday. Despite the losses, despite the down-nature of the ACC, this team still has a chance because of that win over an FSU team that many believe to be capable of a Final-Four appearance.

So, what’s the path to the NCAA Tournament? How would the Tigers play their way onto the bubble? Here’s what would need to happen from Clemson’s perspective to make the big dance.

Path to the NCAA Tournament:

First of all, Clemson has to win out to close the regular season.

The Tigers have two games remaining- @ Virginia Tech, vs. Georgia Tech- and they’ll both be played this week. Clemson lost a game to Virginia Tech to begin this season and will be looking to avenge that loss on the road Wednesday. The Tigers will then close out the regular season at home against GT on Friday.

The first step is winning those two games.

If Clemson wins out, the Tigers would finish with a 17-13 overall record and an 11-9 record in the ACC. That would likely be good enough for anywhere between 5-7 in the ACC standings.

The next step is pretty simple: Survive and Advance.

Clemson would need two wins- one in the second-round and one in the quarterfinals against a top-4 seed- to put itself squarely on the bubble. That would likely mean the Tigers would have to upset Duke, Louisville or Florida State one more time.

If the Tigers lost in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, they’d finish with a 19-14 overall record and would be right on the outskirts of earning an NCAA Tournament bid depending on what happened around the rest of the country.

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It’s not an easy task, but it’s still possible. Clemson doesn’t have basically any room for error, but the Tigers still have a chance heading down the stretch.