Offensively, there's not a lot that separates Clemson and NC State. Both rely on an outstanding interior scorer, both just kind of hope for the best from the guys that surround them. Clemson gets slightly better guard play on the whole, and they're more balanced.
The difference is defense; Clemson plays it, while we you know it's whatever. There are a couple of drawbacks to Clemson's pressure D, drawbacks that persist year-to-year: opponents make plenty of twos and get to the line often.
-- Clemson got off to a quick start in the first meeting and scored 1.4 points per possession in the first half. They averaged less than a point per trip against ACC teams this season, so that's slightly aberrant. Clemson managed to be that successful because they made 68% of their twos and only turned the ball over a handful of times. I kinda doubt that's repeatable.
-- If there's something positive to take away from the first meeting, it's that State only turned the ball over 16.8% of the time. The Pack took great care of the ball in the second half, which was a big part of their rally. We've been routinely baffled by the Clemson press, but that was an exception. It's also consistent with what we've seen from the Wolfpack all year--they're far less careless with the basketball.
-- Keys: (1) don't let the Tigers make 60+% of their twos (duh). (2) Don't take so many threes. Twenty-one of State's 54 field goal attempts were threes, a Princeton-esque proportion. Again, there is nothing special about Clemson's interior D. (3) Turnovers. If you take care of the ball against Clemson, you open up all sorts of opportunities. In addition to their blah interior defense, they foul a lot, and their defensive rebounding is average. While they've managed to diversify a bit, Purnell's teams still make a living on turnovers.