ACC Basketball

Battle of the Bandwagons: FSU VS CLEMSON

(Photo: Joe Rondone/Democrat)

The Florida State Seminoles have won three out of four, including a nice 16-point comeback over previously ranked Miami this Sunday. More impressively, the Clemson Tigers have taken three straight and five out of seven. Three of the Tigers’ wins have come against top-100 teams; Syracuse at home and Pittsburgh and NC State on the road, so yeah, these two teams are both ready to bust out the bandwagons. Anyone want a ride?

This will be the second meeting between the two, as Florida State held on to beat Clemson, 59-55, after blowing a 12-point lead late in that game. Xavier Rathan-Mayes had one of his best performances of the year, scoring 17, while handing out nine assists. Yet, the trick for Florida State moving forward is to continue to get production inside. In their last contest, Montay Brandon, Kiel Turpin and Boris Bojanovsky all handled the post well and came away with 36 points. However, defensively is where they can set the tone. The Tigers are not good shooting team, inside preferring to do their damage from inside the painted area. When you have three seven-foot players, you need to protect your rim, something FSU does quite well (38th in block %, according to Ken Pom).

Clemson can always play defense, in fact, they’re pretty damn good at it. They’re 54th in defensive efficiency and 24th in effective field goal % (Ken Pom). Like Florida State, they do a good job rim protecting and forcing long jumpers, but they never try to force the issue with turnovers, stealing about as much as a Mormon during looting.

Offensively for the Tigers, Jaron Blossomgame continues to be the man, averaging just over 13 per game, but he’s the only player in double figures on this team, partly because they are a balanced squad, but mostly because they don’t score a lot of points (They haven’t touched 70 in this last 10 contests).

Of late though, Jordan Roper has really found his sweet spot. After scoring just 78 points in Clemson’s first 18 games (just over four per contest), including a two-point, 1-7 from the field effort against Florida State, Roper has simply started to make baskets. He scored a dozen against Wake Forest, 18 against NC State, then a season high 24 against Boston College. This obviously means he’s scoring 30 tonight, right?

This a big game for these two squads. There are five ACC locks for the NCAA tournament: Virginia, Notre Dame, Louisville, Duke and North Carolina. Syracuse should be the sixth. If the committee is in a giving mode, the ACC could maybe get eight in. This leaves NC State (loser last night), Miami (lost three straight) and Pittsburgh (barely beat Bryant on Monday) battling Clemson and Florida State for those final two spots. In fact, if the Tigers can win this game and go two games over .500 in the conference, they would officially become a bubble team.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: 60-55

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