Clemson Men's Basketball: Tigers look to get back on track vs. Syracuse

Regular season winding down with Tigers battling for fourth place in ACC
Feb 14, 2024; Clemson, South Carolina, USA;  Clemson junior forward PJ Hall (24) dunks near Miami
Feb 14, 2024; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson junior forward PJ Hall (24) dunks near Miami / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing loss at Notre Dame on Saturday, Clemson Men's Basketball winds down the regular season with two ACC games this week.

Despite the loss Saturday, the Tigers still control their destiny in the battle for the fourth and final double-bye in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

Syracuse, at 11-8, lead Clemson, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest who are all at 10-8 in the conference and have two conference games left.

The Orange will either end their ACC regular season at 12-8 or 11-9 on Tuesday in Littlejohn Coliseum.

A Clemson win Tuesday, coupled with a win at Wake Forest on Saturday would catapult the Tigers to the fourth seed.

Anything else and the Tigers are looking at a long, and likely impossible, slog to win the conference tournament and automatic bid, for what that's worth.

It is important to recognize that the ACC Tournament is not the be-all and end-all of the season. While it would be nice to get the double-bye and go deep into the tournament, there's always the argument that going deep into the tournament risks injury and could tire teams that lack depth because of multiple games in a short time frame.

Even with the loss to the Irish, Clemson, 20-9 overall, is solidly in the tournament with a No. 25 NET Ranking and 5 Quad 1 wins.

But those same NET Rankings show the Tigers' vulnerability, too.

Clemson is 5-4 against Quad 1 teams, 5-3 against Quad 2 teams and 5-2 against Quad 3 teams.

In short, the Tigers can beat anyone and lose to anyone in the top 3 Quads.

Clemson is led by P.J. Hall at 18.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while Joe Girard (15.6 points) and Chase Hunter (12.6 points) also average double figures in points, with Ian Schieffelin right there at 9.7 points and ACC leading 9.5 rebounds per game.

The 20-10 Orange have won 4 straight and 5 of their last 6 in making a late-season push, but their 84 NET Ranking spells doom for the Big Dance unless they win the ACC Tournament.

Clemson Men's Basketball has things to work on

As alluded to above this Tiger team has the ability to beat any team in the country when they are playing smart, team basketball and play within themselves.

Their issues typically come when they get out of control, either ignoring the inside game with Hall and Schieffelin, instead opting for threes from players other than Girard, or when the guard play is loose and lackadaisical with the basketball.

Hall also has to stay out of foul trouble, something that has plagued him recently and for a good portion of the season.

Hall seems to pick up at least one non-competitive foul per game, sometimes 40 or more feet from the basket and those end up costing him minutes on the court, as Brownell has been wary of letting Hall stay on the court after a single foul.

Forward Jack Clark missed the Notre Dame game and is a huge piece of the NCAA Tournament puzzle for Clemson.

Clark has been dominant at times defensively, while combining with Schieffelin to be a dynamic rebounding duo.

Clemson beat Syracuse 77-68 on February 10 at the JMA Dome in Syracuse as Joe Girard passed 2,000 career points at his previous home gym.

Tuesday's game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.