With less than 3 weeks until Selection Sunday, Clemson’s shot at making the big dance took a blow with Tuesday Night’s 62-57 loss to the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. The Tigers saw continued progress from guards Demarcus Harrison and Rod Hall who had 15 and 10 points, respectively. Star forward KJ McDaniels had 10 points, however only 3 of those came in the second half, as he and the Tigers struggled despite having a 7 point lead at halftime. Clemson, who had lead the ACC in free throw percentage going into the game, shot a woeful 38% from the line. Wake Forest shot 68%, but attempted almost twice as many free throws as the Tigers, shooting 25 to Clemson’s 13. Clemson was also 6 for 22 from behind the three point line, as it appeared that the Tigers tried to force shots in the second half in an attempt to regain the league. The Deacon’s end a 7 game losing streak on the year and puts them at 5-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson’s record falls to 8-7. If the ACC Tournament began today, Clemson would be the sixth seed and would earn of first round bye.Teams 5th seed through 9th seed get a first round bye and do not play until the Thursday of that week, while the 10-14 seeds play on that Wednesday. Clemson would then play the winner of the 11 seed vs 14 seed game in the first round, which right now would feature either the Deacons or Miami in the 11th spot and Virginia Tech in the 14 spot. The Top 4 seeds earn a “double bye” and do not play until the Friday of that week. As a 6th seed, if Clemson won that Thursday game, they would play the 3rd seed in the conference, which right now is #6 Duke, who the Tigers upset in Clemson in January. Clemson’s road to the NCAA tournament does not have a clear path. The Tigers currently sit at a 69 RPI ranking. 3 straight home games to end the season help Clemson out tremendously. Clemson will play Maryland on Sunday, March 2nd, Miami on Tuesday, March 4th, and Pitt on Saturday, March 8th. Pitt currently sits fifth place in the ACC standings and has an RPI of 45, so a win over them to close the season would be a boost for Clemson. The ACC tournament will probably be the final factor on Clemson’s chances at a NCAA bid. Winning the tournament would automatically clinch a bid to the “Big Dance”, as each conferences champion is given a bid. However, if Clemson where to make any kind of run in the ACC tournament, they would strongly improve their chances at an “at large” bid. The next few weeks should definitely be exciting for Clemson basketball fans.
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