Hidden amongst the football hoopla for a game now nine days away is a difficult test for the Clemson basketball team. The Tigers embark on a four-day, three-game stretch that should provide some unique challenges for Brad Brownell’s young team.
Today I thought it would be appropriate to give a brief overview of what to expect from each team, just in case the Tigers match up with them at some point over the span of the weekend. Keep in mind that we really don’t know very much about any of these teams yet since the season is so young.
Temple—Clemson’s opening opponent—is a team that is wing-oriented. The Owls are efficient on offense and love to attack off set plays and screening away from the ball to free scorers. Defensively, they play a ton of man-to-man. They have played close games so far, with all three games decided by between four and six points.
Davidson is 0-3, but that record could be a bit deceiving. The Wildcats have already faced nationally ranked foes Duke and Virginia. The free-flowing offense relies on outside shooting, and Bob McKillop’s team has hit only 31 percent of its shots from beyond the arc so far this season. This does not look like a very good defensive team early on in 2013.
Some have already pegged Georgia as the worst major conference team in America, and I don’t totally disagree. This was a bad team last year that lost its best player (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) to the NBA. The Bulldogs are 1-1 with a pounding of Wofford and a double-digit loss to Georgia Tech on their record. This may be the worst team in this field, honestly.
New Mexico is an interesting team on the other side of the bracket. The Lobos were a three seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and their success got former coach Steve Alford the UCLA job. Craig Neal was an assistant on that staff, and he has this team scoring points in bunches. New Mexico leads the country in scoring two games into its schedule, averaging 98.5 points per game. There is NBA talent all over this roster.
Second-year coach Jerod Haase has UAB rolling, as the Blazers are off to a 3-0 start. UAB has an experienced front line full of big bodies that like to throw their weight around. The Blazers have averaged 51.3 rebounds per game so far this season. A win over Rutgers highlights their early results.
Nebraska is slightly above Georgia in the hierarchy of horrible major conference programs. In fact, the Cornhuskers’ head coach, Doc Sadler, made fun of how bad his team is at the Big Ten’s preseason media event. Seriously, look it up—it’s pretty funny. Anyway, the Huskers have virtually no chance in a loaded league, but a 3-0 start has been a nice way to start what is sure to be a disastrous campaign.
Massachusetts has been perhaps the most impressive out-of-nowhere mid-major team in the country so far. Wins over Boston College—considered an NCAA Tourney contender—and LSU have led to a big bump in the RPI for the Minutemen. This is a veteran team that shoots at a high percentage and has learned to take full advantage of the quicker whistles this season, drawing an average of 27 fouls per game so far.