|by Brandon Rink|
There is opportunity for movement, however.
The Tigers (23-8; 11 RPI) hold a 5-seed Bracket Matrix’s average projection with some serious chances to impress this weekend in Brooklyn.
With two wins, Brad Brownell’s program can not only make program history with an ACC title - they would log second-and-third wins over top-10 RPI teams (possibly two top-5 wins going into Sunday).
Even just the upset Friday night over the Cavaliers (currently a 7-point underdog; ESPN projects Virginia by 8.6 points) lands a fifth win over an RPI Group 1 team and gives the Tigers 13 such wins over Group 1 or 2 teams (home RPI of 1-75; neutral site games versus 1-100; away 1-135).
Maybe nearly as important is a resume lacking any bad losses, improving Thursday to 19-0 versus non-Group 1 teams. For comparison, 4-seed candidate Arizona (18 RPI) has four losses versus Group 2-3 teams and 4-seed candidate West Virginia (28 RPI) holds two losses versus Group 3 teams.
The Tigers also moved back above .500 in road/neutral site record (8-7).
When it comes to NCAA Tournament destination, some significant wins will be needed to have a regional pod closer to home. Charlotte would appear to be out with likely No. 1-overall seed Virginia projected for one spot there and Duke and UNC strong options for the other pod top-seed.
As it stands now, ESPN and CBS have Xavier (28-4, 3 RPI), Auburn (25-6, 8 RPI), North Carolina (24-9, 5 RPI) and Michigan State (29-4, 15 RPI) in Nashville. ESPN and CBS both send Clemson to Boise, with one in the Midwest Region versus Missouri Valley champion Loyola-Chicago (KenPom: 41) and the other in the East Region versus Summit champ South Dakota State (KenPom: 75).
In the NCAA rankings on Feb. 11, a Clemson team with an RPI of 4 and four RPI Group 1 wins was projected as the top 3-seed.
Going into the week, Clemson was given a 68.7 percent chance of advancing to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament by The Power Rank (Sweet 16 - 35.6; Elite 8 - 18.1; Final Four - 7.4; Championship game - 1.9; National title - 0.7).
Clemson NCAA Tournament profile
Metrics average*: 18.2
Strength of Schedule: 19
Record v. RPI Group 1**: 4-8
Average RPI of Wins: 120
Average RPI of Losses: 34
Bad losses (150+ RPI): None
Road/neutral record: 8-7
Record v. current KenPom top-50: 8-5
Top-25 ranked wins (at the time): No. 22 Florida (71-69 at neutral site), No. 18 Miami (72-63), No. 19 UNC (82-78).
Last 10: 7-3
* NCAA Tournament Selection Committee average of result-based metrics RPI, KPI, and ESPN Strength of record plus predictive-based metrics of ESPN BPI, KenPom and Sagarin.
**Home 1-30 RPI rank, neutral site 1-50 rank, away 1-75.
Brandon Rink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org