clemson Update: Spread – clemson by 10.5. clemson lost to fsu by 3 on Thursday 70-67 on a shot at the buzzer by Michael Snaer (we can relate). The tigers fell to 2-4 in the ACC.
They are near the bottom of the ACC in terms of 3-point % and 3s made per game, which is good for Tech. VT beat the #9 and 10 3-point shooting teams in the league, wake and gt. Expect to see the Hokies play zone and dare clemson to beat them from deep (gotta guard Jennings out there). The tigers are good at blocking shots and have a very turnover margin, so we’ll see if Tech can get points inside and protect the ball.
Spread: uva by 4 (at our place?!). FYI: It’s a Maroon Monsoon, people! Greenberg could never figure out we should wear ‘maroon’ for this game (or black for the blackout), but JJ’s got it figured out already! Maroon it up, peeps!
The Magnificent Seven (plus two walk-ons) have won two in a row but will face two stiff challenges this week. If you were hoping to watch some fun, exciting ACC contests, this is not the week for you. Tech takes on two of the most boring, offensively averse teams in the nation this week, with uva coming to the Cassell on Thursday and then heading down to Littlejohn on Sunday for a match-up with the c-l-e-m-s-ohhhhh-n tigers. Watching these two teams play is a lot like going to the dentist – and you should opt for the eye protection to shield your eyes.
I guess another way to say it is that both uva and clemson are really good on defense (and not pushing the ball). Both rank in the top 10 in the NATION in terms of points allowed per game (uva at #2, giving up just 50.6 ppg, and clemson at #9). uva is also in the top 10 in terms of defensive efficiency – allowing just 85.8 points per 100 possessions for their opponents (VT is 18 points higher).
In ACC play, no one has reached the 60-point mark against uva and they held florida state to 36 (yes, you read that right) this weekend. 15 in the first half, and the noles ‘exploded’ for 21 in the 2nd half. The wahoos have held opponents to 45 or fewer points 7 times this year, and in the 30s on four occasions.
clemson held uva and wake to 44 points each in back-to-back wins and have held three other teams in the 40s. clemson beat uva 59-44 at Littlejohn a week ago.
But, part of being a good defense also means taking the air out of the ball on offense (along with good transition defense). uva ranks 344th out of 347 teams in Division 1 in terms of tempo (less than 60 possessions per game, which is 10 less than Tech averages) and clemson checks in at 325th at 62 possessions per game. So don’t expect a shootout at the OK Corral, these are much more likely to be a drag’em out, sock’em game.
In the Post: Luckily for Virginia “what’s a defensive rebound” Tech, neither uva nor clemson has much size in the post, which will help the rebounding-challenged Hokies. uva does not have a single starter over 6’8″ and clemson’s only starter over 6’8″ (Milton Jennings – 10.1 ppg) is as soft as they come. He’s even more of a perimeter player than Jarell Eddie. He has just 22 offensive rebounds. More on him below in the 3-point shooting section.
uva does have a 6’11” freshman in Mike Tobey, but he has all the athleticism of Tobey Keith. He gives them 6 ppg but not many rebounds or blocks.
The real threat inside for uva is 6’8″ junior Akil Mitchell. With Mike Scott gone after seemingly haunting the Hokies for 10 years (it was actually five — yes, five — and more than 100 career points vs VT), Mitchell has really blossomed. He’s tripled his PPG from 4.1 last year to 12.3 this year, and his rebounds have more than doubled from 4.4 to 9.1 per game. Akil does all his work in the trenches and shoots 54% from the floor. He grabs a lot of offensive rebounds, too.
Darion Atkins, a 6’8″ sophomore, is their best shot-blocker inside, though he didn’t play against fsu due to a shin injury. Not sure of his status for this game.
For clemson, 6’8″ senior Devin Booker has seen the light switch go on this year. He’s playing a lot tougher inside, and leads clemson with 13 ppg and 8 rebounds. He had 27 points in their close loss at nc state, and 12 points and 15 rebounds at duke recently. Still, he is just a shadow of his brother.
The most dangerous ‘big’ for clemson isn’t even a big man. 6’6″ sophomore K.J. McDaniels has Dominique Wilkins-like hops. You may remember him from his dunk contest he put on in Blacksburg last year, scoring 14 points on SIX DUNKS and blocking 5 shots. Against wake last week he had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and SEVEN BLOCKS. He’s like Josh Smith in that he’ll come from across the arena out of nowhere to reject a shot. McDaniels puts up 10.6 ppg, 5 boards, and 2.2. blocks per contest.
3-Point Shooting: Tech has had issues defending the three-point shot of late and both teams present challenges for the Hokies. For uva it is junior Joe Harris (who has torched Tech in the past). He’s leading uva in ppg at 15.2 and is shooting 46% from behind the arc with 37 makes (more than 2 per game), second best in terms of 3-point % in the ACC. For clemson, more than half of Jennings’s shots and makes are 3-pointers, and. That said, he is a deadly outside shooter, hitting 45% of his 60 3-point attempts.
Bench: clemson really only goes two deep on their bench (in terms of meaningful minutes), so they have the same depth issues as Tech. Filer will give them 8 points off the bench, though, and Roper is a good 3-point shooter as a 6th man. Anderson is a decent scorer off the bench for uva and Jones has some quickness to contend with.
Other Factors: Senior Jontel Evans missed the first part of the season with injury and is missing in action right now. He’s averging just 3 ppg over the 8 games he’s played. Jontel is probably the only PG in America that hasn’t attempted a 3-point shot all season (he’s never been a good 3-point shooter anyway). His game is to drive to the hoop, and he is still averaging almost 4 assists per game. Mitchell has been a big beneficiary of that, and another fear is him driving and kicking out to Harris. I’d dare Jontel to beat Tech and force him to finish off the drive. That said, Tech’s guards (including EG) are not good on-ball defenders (Rankin is the best), and Evans likely will beat them like a rented mule off the dribble. Tech will need better help defense after he gets by the first line of defense with quick rotations and not leaving Harris.
Other than Harris and Mitchell, no one is averaging even 7 ppg for uva. Not a surprise since they only score 62 per game. Harris and Mitchell account for 44% of that.
Rod Hall is another mighty might for clemson and is their playmaker. He puts up almost 4 assists per game, just like Evans. He is also a pass-first guy who never shoots the 3 (just 2 attempts all season).
Erick Green is still the nation’s leading scorer — 0.5 ahead of McDermott from creighton barrel.