Atlantic Coast Conference
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to Villanova
Coach: Oliver Purnell (0-4 in 4 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Clemson plays tough, hard-nosed defense and that is why they have been so successful under Coach Oliver Purnell. Because of their toughness, the Tigers generate a ton of turnovers. Just about everybody on the team is good for a steal or two and, making matters even worse for the opposition, Clemson has a trio of shot blocking threats.
Trevor Booker leads the way on the defensive end, tallying 2.3 blocks per contest. Booker is also the team’s leading scorer, a dominating presence in the paint and has the ability to step outside and hit the long ball. Raymond Sykes and Jerai Grant are the other two shot blockers. Sykes, a 6-9 senior, has also emerged as a solid scorer in the paint. He is the physically largest presence under the basket and between him and Booker, the frontcourt has a two very capable scoring options.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Even with the quality big men, Clemson often gets outrebounded. Booker does a solid job on the glass, as does wing K.C. Rivers, but the Tigers defensive scheme often leads to poor rebounding. The other major issue, besides free-throws, is turnovers. The turnover numbers are not too awful, but point guard Demontez Stitt is a young player who can make some mistakes. Stitt has emerged as a solid passer and a decent scorer, although his outside shooting needs a little work. However, if Stitt and the rest of the team keeps committing turnovers they will not make it very far in the tournament.
Who To Watch:
Rivers is much more than a rebounder. The 6-5 wing is a consistent outside shooter, a solid defender and the best perimeter scorer on the team. On any given day Rivers can score over 20 points and Clemson has never lost a game when Rivers scores more than 15 points. Terrence Oglesby is the other big time scorer in the backcourt. Oglesby knocks down 3.0 three-pointers per game and has turned into one the Atlantic Coast Conference’s most dangerous shooting threats. Unlike Rivers, Oglesby is pretty much a pure shooter, but when those two are hitting their outside shots the Tigers are tough to beat. If the opposition has to worry about Rivers and Oglesby, it frees up space under the basket for Booker and Sykes and suddenly the Tigers offense is unstoppable.
Demontez Stitt, Sophomore, Guard
Terrence Oglesby, Sophomore, Guard
K.C. Rivers, Senior, Guard
Trevor Booker, Junior, Forward
Raymond Sykes, Senior, Center
Jerai Grant, Sophomore, Forward
David Potter, Junior, Forward
Tanner Smith, Freshman, Guard
Andre Young, Freshman, Guard
+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!