ACC Basketball

Hot meets cold in South Beach

Mark Crammer Independent Mail

In seems like only yesterday the Miami Hurricanes were riding high. They beat Duke in Cameron, nearly toppled Notre Dame in South Bend, beat NC State and then headed to Syracuse to upset the Orange. They had won four of five and were ranked in the top-25. That’s when the roof caved in and they’ve dropped three straight, including a pair against inferior foes.

It also seems like only yesterday that the Clemson Tigers were going to challenge for the ACC basement. They dropped four of five to start conference play and talk was turning to how much longer Brad Brownell would have a job (not much longer). Yet, they suddenly won four in a row.

Now it helps that the Tigers haven’t really faced anyone actually good during this run. The victory over Syracuse back in mid-January looked impressive at the time, but the Orange have fallen flat. In fact, three of Clemson’s wins during their recent run have been against three of the worst teams in the ACC (Wake, BC and FSU). They did managed to beat NC State, a team currently 55th in Ken Pom’s rankings, but even the Wolfpack have not been a good team lately.

Yet, I’m not here to bash a team for winning. The Tigers are two games above .500 in the ACC, which makes them a NCAA Tournament contender. What’s amazing is they are doing it with one of the worst offenses the ACC has seen in a long while. They are last or second-to-last in pretty much every offensive category. However, it’s at the defensive end where they excel.

The Tigers are second in the ACC in overall defense, first in effective FG%. This matters because putting the ball in the basket is the one thing Miami can’t seem to do right now. Led by Angel Rodriguez, the Hurricanes are quickly becoming one of the worst shooting teams in the conference. In Rodriguez’s last six games, he’s just 10-57 from the floor. That’s 17% from the floor. How is that dude still starting? Why not start Manu Lecomte? He started last year and at least he’s only taken 29 shots to make his last 10.

Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame should be able to exploit some holes in the Hurricanes defense with his athleticism, while Landry Nnoko can protect the rim and can handle his own against Tonye Jekiri on the boards, but keep any eye on Jordan Roper. He’s come out of nowhere to average 18 points per game in his last three.

It’s not easy to pick a middle-of-the-pack ACC team on the road, but it’s even harder to pick Miami right now.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Clemson, 59-55

 

 

 

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