CLEMSON BASKETBALL

Clemson looks to pull off a third Vegas upset in a row this NCAA Tournament against a very talented Arizona team (Merrell Mann photo).
Clemson looks to pull off a third Vegas upset in a row this NCAA Tournament against a very talented Arizona team (Merrell Mann photo).

NCAA Tournament predictions for Clemson-Arizona Sweet 16


by -

Clemson men's basketball looks to pull off a third Vegas upset in a row for the program's second-ever trip to the Elite Eight.

Brad Brownell's Tigers (23-11) will play 2-seed Arizona (27-8) Thursday at 7:09 EDT in Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center). The Pac-12 Conference regular season leaders are currently listed as a 6.5-point favorite.

ESPN's analytics are tipped far more in Arizona's favor than Baylor's last week, with a 79.1% projection compared to 64.7% for the Bears in Memphis.

Arizona is the highest-rated 2-seed on KenPom, at No. 5 overall, with a Top 10 offense (9) and defense (10) -- paired with a Top 20 adjusted tempo (16). Clemson has moved up 11 spots in KenPom rating since the start of the tournament (23) with a Top 40 offense (24) and defense (38), featuring a much slower tempo (256th).

ESPN's three-man panel all has Arizona covering the spread ($).

"Clemson was fantastic defensively in its first two games of the tournament, slowing down two explosive offenses in New Mexico and Baylor. Arizona is a different test. The Wildcats showed real mettle in the win over Dayton, getting big baskets and stops down the stretch. Caleb Love, Keshad Johnson and Jaden Bradley give Arizona a different dimension than the last two tournaments," said ESPN's Jeff Borzello, who picked Arizona 82-70.

The victor faces the winner between 1-seed UNC and 4-seed Alabama, a matchup where Clemson beat each one on the road this season. Two ESPN predictors pick UNC and one takes the Crimson Tide. The ESPN matchup predictor slightly favors Alabama (52.3%).

CBS Sports' re-seeding of the tournament field has Clemson as the third-best out in LA (No. 13 overall).

"Widely projected as one of the single-digit seeds most likely to get bounced in the first round, Clemson put together two of its best performances of the season at the perfect time in wins over New Mexico and Baylor. Consistency has been the issue with Clemson this year, boasting wins against North Carolina and Alabama but also carrying losses to Notre Dame and Boston College. The real key to the Tigers' success was an inspired effort on the defensive end, limiting a pair of potent opponents to offensive outputs well below their season average," said CBS' Chip Patterson.

Arizona is No. 5 in that ranking.

"Long Beach State made things interesting early and Dayton made things interesting late, but whenever Arizona was pushed during its opening weekend action, the Wildcats had a strong response. And while this is a group that averaged 81.5 points per game across the two wins, the most encouraging takeaway may have been on the defensive side. Dayton has a skilled and versatile offense that causes plenty of matchup problems for opponents, and Arizona was able to mix it up and hold the Flyers to one of their least efficient performances of the season. Deep runs in the NCAA Tournament require winning in different ways, and Arizona showed that on its path to the Sweet 16," said Patterson, who has UNC at No. 3 overall and Alabama at No. 15.

CBS Sports' scouting report on Arizona: "Arizona's lethal offense (87.9 ppg) ranked third out of all Division l teams in scoring and finished top 10 in adjusted efficiency on offense and defense, per KenPom. The team's offensive possessions average 15.2 seconds, the 8th-fastest in the country. The Wildcats average 13.3 offensive rebounds, and their rebounding margin (+347) ranks No. 3 of all Division l teams. Pac-12 Player of the Year Caleb Love is an offensive juggernaut, and the offense stops and starts with him. Oumar Ballo is an interior force inside capable of taking over a game. Add Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell, Jaden Bradley, KJ Lewis and Keshad Johnson to the mix, and you have one of the most complete rosters top-to-bottom."

ESPN's round re-seeding has Clemson at the bottom, after starting this tourney as a 6-seed.

"Against the Lobos, the Tigers started with a 32-13 lead, although they finished 7-for-21 from the 3-point line. Against the Bears, they nearly squandered a 15-point lead in the final six minutes of the game. It's difficult to project this team's ceiling. Yes, Clemson has shown the same offensive promise that had it ranked second in offensive efficiency in the ACC. It also has shown flashes of the team that stumbled into Selection Sunday. More than anything, it has proved that a gritty path to the Sweet 16 still means it's among the last teams standing," said ESPN's Myron Medcalf.

Clemson last made the Elite Eight in 1980 and has never made a Final Four.

Ultimate Level LogoUpgrade Your Account

Unlock premium boards and exclusive features (e.g. ad-free) by upgrading your account today.

Upgrade Now
Comment on this story
Print   
Send Feedback to TigerNet Staff: Email | Comment
Clemson pro signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
Clemson pro signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
NCAA announces approval of football rule changes on communications, timing
NCAA announces approval of football rule changes on communications, timing
Clemson-Pitt baseball schedule changes
Clemson-Pitt baseball schedule changes
'2 Right Turns' podcast says Clemson football has the drip, best facility in country
'2 Right Turns' podcast says Clemson football has the drip, best facility in country
Post your comments!