ACC Basketball

ACC Tournament, Round Two: Georgia Tech vs. Clemson

AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton

AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton

The Clemson Tigers were predicted by many to finish near the bottom of the ACC, yet has proven to be one of the better defensive teams out there and finished in the top half of the league. They’re led by one of the most anonymous first-team All ACC players ever, K.J. McDaniels, who also locked down the ACC’s defensive player of the year award. The kid is a beast on defense, almost always assigned to guard the opponents best player.

At 19-11, the Tigers are probably sitting on the outside looking into the NCAA tournament. They have just three wins over KenPom’s Top-50. They’ll probably need to get at least two wins (one which will need to be a second win over Duke in the quarters) to even be put into the NCAA discussion. Good thing for them they enter the tournament battle tested. Nine of their last 11 have been decided by five points or less points and they’ve played in three overtime games, two of which were double overtime games.

The Yellow Jackets have now won three straight, one of which was on the road against Syracuse. Of course the last two came against the two worst teams in the ACC, so excuse me if I keep the good champagne in the fridge. In reality, this is a team that’s healthier now, especially with Robert Carter Jr. looking 100%. Make no mistake about it, he is the key to their success. There is a reason why Tech went 3-7 without him in the lineup.

Last night against Boston College, they looked like a team that could make some noise in the tournament, opening up a 12-point lead with five minutes to go. However, their offense would go full on The Day After Tomorrow, going nine full minutes without a bucket before finding a way to hold on in the end.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS: Clemson beat Georgia Tech, 45-41. Clemson beat Georgia Tech, 63-55.
Despite playing without Robert Carter Jr or Trae Golden, the Yellow Jackets were down just two in the final seconds at Littlejohn, however, K.J. McDaniels blocked Marcus Georges-Hunt’s layup and Kammeon Holsey’s follow fell short. Two weeks later, Golden and Carter were back, but thanks to 16 points, two blocks and four steals by K.J. McDaniels, the Tigers outscored the Yellow Jackets 34-19 in the games final 21 minutes.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. This is a classic, first one to 50 wins and normally the Tigers are the ones who pull these games out. However, while McDaniels may be the best talent on the court (Late lottery pick in the 2014 NBA draft?), I believe Georgia Tech has more talent, especially inside.

When these two teams faced off twice in February, Carter was out injured in the first contest and nowhere near 100% in the other (he went 0-5 from the floor). Since that game, Carter is on fire, hitting 26-43 (60%) from the two-point range. If Carter is willing to stay in the paint and not try to shoot over McDaniels  (Carter is just 9-31 from three since coming back from injury) , with Daniel Miller and Marcus Georges-Hunt, the Yellow Jackets should be able to overpower a thin Clemson front court.

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