Clemson vs NC State Preview and Prediction
Clemson vs NC State Preview
Success for the Clemson Tigers used to come only on the football field, but the tide has turned on the basketball court this year.
Clemson (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) will arrive to PNC Arena, the home of the Wolfpack, with a No. 19 national ranking.
Despite Clemson defeating N.C. State 78-62 in the conference opener on Dec. 30 at home, Tigers coach Brad Brownell said he knows his team needs to be on full alert.
“I feel like they’re a team that when they’re really playing well, they can play with anybody in the league as was evident the other night,” Brownell said.
He was referring to the Wolfpack’s 96-85 upset of then-No. 2 Duke on Saturday night. That was the second time this season that N.C. State has conquered a team ranked No. 2.
That outcome gave first-year N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts a victory in his first ACC home game.
“I will say this, I don’t think this team ever lost confidence,” Keatts said. “We had a tough start, starting on the road the first two games of the ACC. We just needed to get home and sleep in our bed and get some home cooking and it certainly worked out.”
But it’s the Tigers who might be the biggest surprise in the ACC. Last season, they didn’t pick up their third conference victory until February.
Brownell said it’s on defense where the largest change has occurred.
“We had some guys who could score, but to win some more close games and give ourselves a chance to win, we had to improve our defense,” he said. “I was optimistic that our guys would work to defend. I think they’ve shown very good grit and perseverance to stick with it in certain games.”
Clemson holds a 10-game winning streak in part because of a defense giving up 63.5 points per game. The Tigers have the ACC’s second-best defensive rebounding percentage at 75.4 percent of opponents’ misses.
“Sometimes you’re going to struggle on offense and you have to find other ways to win. I think our guys are really defensive-minded in nature with this year’s team. … We’ve done a better job in coaching that.”
Key Stat for Clemson
Only two opponents have exceeded 70 points against Clemson (Boston College and Ohio–both games Clemson won).
Consistency is key for NC State
N.C. State (11-5, 1-2) has been more erratic in its performances. Since opening the season with five consecutive victories, the Wolfpack are 6-5.
Now it’s a matter of moving on after knocking off Duke for a second year in a row.
“I told our guys, ‘Every win that we have, I want you to celebrate and be excited about, but don’t be satisfied,'” Keatts said. “Just because we beat the No. 2 team in the country, that’s not what we’re trying to build. We want to build a program where we can be consistent every night.”
Key Stat for NC State
N.C. State ranks last in the ACC by allowing foes to shoot 43.9 percent from the field.
Clemson’s defense is one of the best in the country and NC State’s is the worst in the ACC. Despite the Wolfpack having impressive wins on their resume, it will be hard for them to compete with the Tigers tonight.
LINE: -4 Clemson
Clemson 78 NC State 65