ACC Basketball

Notre Dame, Clemson Both Looking to Rebound

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a battle that features the conference’s second best offense (Notre Dame) taking on the ACC’s second best defense (Clemson)…something has to give.

The Tigers had taken four in a row and six of eight to get themselves into the NCAA tournament conversation, but because of some early season defeats to teams you don’t lose to, they couldn’t really afford to stumble. Yet, stumble is what they did in South Beach in a loss to a struggling Miami team.

Notre Dame was riding high with a top-10 ranking and a home win against Duke, but since then they have fallen on hard times, dropping two of three, including a 30-point loss to the Blue Devils.

For the Irish, they ride or die with Jerian Grant and after playing like an All-American all season long, his disappearing acts in Notre Dame’s two loses are concerning. Against Pittsburgh, he had just four points in the game’s first 36 minutes, before he nearly rallied the troops with 10 points at the end. Against the Blue Devils, he had his worst game of the season, hitting just 3-10 from the floor and 1-7 from the FT line. The fact is, he’s just too damn talented to have games like these.

Of course, facing the Tigers won’t make life easier for Grant. They got good athletes with length and big men who can handle the pick-n-roll. In conference, Clemson is first in effective FG% and first in 2P%, according to Ken Pom.

The problem is, will the Tigers be able to score? Like I already said, Brad Brownell has lots of athletes, but he lacks basketball players who can score, as Clemson is dead last in conference in effective FG%, unable to hit from deep and even worse inside. They do shoot free throws well, but the Irish are the league’s best at keeping teams off the line.

When in doubt, put your money on the home team in the ACC. Against one of the worst defensive teams in the conference, I actually like Jordan Roper and Donte Grantham to hit some outside shots and pull off the upset.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Clemson 59-58

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