Oliver Purnell and Billy Gillespie both face the task of building a basketball program at a school that has forever been labeled a football school. Clemson and Texas A&M are both well known for having rich traditions in football, however both basketball programs have struggled to put themselves on the map.
This season has been an up and down ride for both programs. The Aggies saw a promising run go down in flames with a first round tournament loss to Kansas State. The Aggies have still never won a game in the Big 12 tournament. A&M much like Clemson is very excited to be participating in postseason play.
A book could be written about the ups and downs of Clemson's season. The Tigers have persevered through struggles. The team came together to play their best basketball after a 32 point loss at UNC. Now the Tigers look to carry the momentum into College Station, Texas.
Antoine Wright is the Aggies leading scorer. Wright is a brilliant player. At 6-7, he has the ability to play inside as well as out on the perimeter. In conference play, Clemson really did not face a play with Wright's skill set. The closest example would be Nik Caner-Medley at Maryland, but Wright is faster and more athletic. Acie Law is the leading ball handler for the Aggies averaging 5.1 assists per game. At 6-3, Law could present some matchup problems for the Tigers.
Clemson's backcourt will need to match the backcourt of the Aggies, but in the frontcourt is clearly where Clemson can win the game. Sharrod Ford will present all sorts of matchup problems inside. Ford should be able to muscle his way through the paint and control the inside. Along with Ford, Olu Babalola and James Mays should do some damage inside.
The Tigers once again head to College Station following a disappointing loss, but however the Tigers this time carry a little swagger to Aggie Town. The winner will face Depaul at a date to be determined, but the winner will get a second round home game because Depaul's arena will not be available. Two upstart programs will have a chance to prove themselves tomorrow night.