NC State is in Clemson on Tuesday night to face a Tigers team that, who knows, may well end up being the ACC’s best. Clemson already has six KenPom top-100 wins, four of them in the top 50. The Tigers are No. 18 in the Pomeroy Ratings.
To the bullets:
— Is Clemson the new Virginia? Well, no, let’s not go crazy here, but it’s true so far that the Tigers have played better defense than the Cavs. In fact, Brad Brownell’s club ranks second nationally in defensive efficiency. The Tigers want to play slow and their offense isn’t great, so ugly games tend to be the norm. No Clemson opponent has cracked 1.0 points/possession in a game this year.
— The Tigers have been outstanding at forcing missed shots and also forcing lots of turnovers, more than making up for their average efforts on the defensive glass. This isn’t an exceptionally tall team, but it is running deep and it is highly disruptive. Clemson ranks 20th in steal percentage.
— Offensively, the Tigers are again led by Aamir Simms, who can do a little bit of everything, and whose size (6’8, 245) makes him a difficult matchup everywhere on the floor. This year he’s hitting more than 63% of his twos—he’s also an excellent free throw shooter, and he gets fouled a lot. Simms leads Clemson in offensive rebounding rate and ranks second on the team in assist rate.
— Simms is also a critical piece defensively but has been a bit more foul-prone this year, averaging five per 40 minutes. If State could get him into some early foul trouble, that’d help a lot.
— Guards Al-Amir Dawes and Nick Honor each have 40+ three-point attempts this season and nobody else has more than 18. Honor is shooting 39% from deep, while Dawes has been average.
— In general, shooting has been the worrying problem for Clemson. While the Tigers are slightly above average from three, at 34.5%, they are just 212th in 2FG%, at 48%. In three league games, the Tigers have made just 41% of their twos, which ranks dead last in the ACC. NC State needs to keep those struggles coming, so let’s hope Manny Bates is healthy enough to play.
— KenPom likes the Tigers by five.