Fresh off a huge week with two road wins, the 7-0 (1-0) Clemson Men’s Basketball team is back in the upstate and will host South Carolina Wednesday evening at Littlejohn Coliseum on the Clemson campus.
The Tigers are currently No. 18 in the NET Rankings, with two Quad 1 wins, both on the road and coming last week against Alabama and Pittsburgh.
Clemson played smart and tough in both matchups, aided by improved offensive rebounding, the shooting of Joe Girard and the dominant force that is P.J. Hall.
Hall, a 6’10.5 senior from Spartanburg, is averaging 21.4 points,7.7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game while shooting 56% from the field, 42% from three-point range and 79% from the line.
Joe Girard (14.7) and Chase Hunter (12.0) are also averaging double figures for Clemson, while Ian Schieffelin leads the team with 9.3 rebounds per contest, including an incredible 17 in the game at Pittsburgh.
After a 6 for 9 afternoon in Pittsburgh, Girard is suddenly red-hot from deep, connecting on 46% of his three-pointers on the season.
The Tigers have excelled at shooting (eFG% 23rd in the nation) and taking care of the ball (turnover % No. 37) in their first seven games.
While Clemson may have surprised a few people by winning at Tuscaloosa and Pittsburgh, South Carolina has surprised many more by getting off to their own 7-0 start which includes wins over top 100 opponents Virginia Tech and Grand Canyon.
The Gamecocks have shot almost as well as Clemson, but against an easier schedule to date.
South Carolina is led by 6’2 shooting guard Meechie Johnson, who leads the team in points at 17.9 per game and rebounds at 5.0 per contest.
B.J. Mack (16.7) and Myles Stute (10.3) also average double figure points for the Gamecocks, with Ta’lon Cooper coming in just under at 9.7.
The Gamecocks profile similarly to Clemson in the number and percentage of threes, but play at an even slower pace than the Tigers.
Clemson Men’s Basketball is favored over South Carolina.
Reminder that I’ve been very bad at predicting Clemson basketball against the spread this season, so take this with a grain of salt.
Clemson enters the game as an 8.5 point favorite on their home floor, but this game could be a real challenge for Clemson as South Carolina has played well and determined thus far.
Clemson’s guard play, while not elite, has made a real difference in steadying the team when the opponent makes a run.
I’ve said this before, but this Clemson team is ultra-reliant on shooting, because they haven’t rebounded great on the season (better as of late) and don’t shoot many free throws.
The Tigers will have a size advantage and one key to this game, as was the case in Pittsburgh, will be rebounding, particularly Ian Schieffelin for Clemson.
If Schieffelin gets to double digit boards, with some being on the offensive end, the Tigers should be in good shape, assuming Hall stays out of foul trouble and is his typical workman-like self.
I expect the scrappy Gamecocks to challenge the Tigers on their home court, but ultimately Clemson is the more talented team, playing at home and will prevail.
Clemson to win and cover the 8.5 points.