Editor's Early Preview (12/15):
An early and important ACC battle on Sunday as Miami faces unbeaten Clemson. Despite the Tigers undefeated record, the voters have given them little respect. Rightfully so, as Clemson has a reputation for running off early non-conference home wins before faltering in league play. So long as Jack McClinton doesn't go rogue here and slap anyone in the face, the Hurricanes should get the win.
Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad
#25 Clemson (11-0) has roared out of the gates yet again this season. Everyone expected them to fall off a little bit after the departure of leader James Mays, but the season is a third over and it hasn’t happened yet. Miami (7-2) started the season in the top 25, but has slipped from their position due to defeats at the hands of UConn and Ohio State. The Canes ebb and flow as Jack McClinton, their All-ACC shooting guard, plays. This is the first ACC matchup of the year, but it won’t be televised because of bowl games.
The fast start is becoming habitual for the Tigers, as this is the 4th season in a row they’vee won 10 or more games to begin the season. But they always finish in less than spectacular style, losing at least 10 games by the end of the year. This year shouldn’t be any different.
The key to the game for Clemson is to make their three pointers and force Jack McClinton to be the primary ball-handler for Miami. In the Ohio State game, McClinton was ejected and Lance Hurdle was the only one who could play the point for Miami, so Ohio State’s press worked to perfection. With McClinton in the game, Clemson will try the opposite, to make McClinton the ball handler and Hurdle the scorer, therefore minimizing Miami’s scoring output. The Tigers have an unprecedented 7 guys on the roster who are making at least 30% of their three-pointers. If they shoot well, they have a good chance to win. And even with all these great shooters, the best of the bunch is Terrence Ogglesby. He needs to establish himself early. The leaders of this team, Trevor Booker and KC Rivers, have to step up and lead by example, as the Hurricanes pose the stoutest test Clemson has had to go up against so far this season.
In order for Miami to win, they need to flex their muscles down low. The depth of Miami’s frontcourt is an overlooked strength of the Hurricanes, and they will need bigs Dwayne Collins, Brian Asbury, Cyrus McGowan and Jimmy Graham to play a lot of minutes. Clemson’s tandem of Trevor Booker and Raymond Sykes down low is fierce, and KC Rivers is no slouch on the boards either. However, Miami is a great rebounding team, and that frontcourt depth will show against the Tigers. Miami needs a good game from either James Dews or Eddie Rios to beat this pesky Clemson squad. Unless McClinton explodes, the Hurricanes will need to lean on some other backcourt players. Hurdle is most dangerous as a distributor, so Frank Haith won’t rely on him for the bulk of the scoring. Dews has been streaky. In the two Miami losses, he has averaged just 4 points a game. That won’t be sufficient against Clemson.
Miami avoids the upset here. Yes, even though Clemson is ranked and undefeated, this would be an upset, because Miami is still the better team and are at home. The frontcourt depth wins out in the end, and Clemson’s spiral back to earth begins tomorrow night.
Winner: Miami Margin: 8-12 points