Coming off Tuesday’s loss to Wake Forest, the Tigers hold a record of 8-7 in the ACC and 17-10 overall. The highlight of Clemson’s season is a Jan. 11 triumph over Duke, but stomach-churning road losses have since turned that impressive win into a distant memory. Despite an ugly, one-sided affair in Pittsburgh and a recent loss to struggling Notre Dame, Brad Brownell’s team appeared poised for NCAA contention heading into a must-win matchup with Wake Forest, but the Tigers left Winston-Salem empty-handed and now have their work cut out for them.
GOOD WINS: 72-59 vs. Duke (RPI #7)
BAD LOSSES: 66-64 at Auburn (RPI #160); 76-43 at Pittsburgh (RPI #45); 68-64 (2 OT) at Notre Dame (RPI #115); 62-57 at Wake Forest (RPI #97)
The good news is that Clemson still has an opportunity to pick up one more signature win. The bad news is, in order to do that the Tigers will have to take down the same opponent that wallopped them by 33 points just over a month ago (Pitt). Even before that, Maryland and Miami will be traveling to Littlejohn Coliseum seeking to burst Clemson’s NCAA bubble. While Brownell’s team has easily been better in the comfort of its own home this year, there will be no room for error during this three-game stretch.
WHAT CLEMSON NEEDS TO DO:
Win. Then win again. And again. And probably again after that. As noted above, the game against the Panthers provides Clemson the opportunity to snag another win that raises the eyebrows of the committee, and the Tigers would theoretically be in good shape to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament with 11 conference victories and Ws over Duke and Pitt. That being said, the gut-wrenching losses will still be there, and a Thursday loss in the ACC Tournament won’t do much to help the cause. The road from here for Clemson is difficult to execute but simple to understand: Just keep winning.