Though it sits No. 5 in the latest RPI, Clemson knows it only gets tougher from here
Clemson’s basketball team moved up eight spots to No. 17 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll Monday and six spots to No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25, but more importantly it sits No. 5 in the latest RPI rankings.
All of this comes after the Tigers (14-1, 3-0 ACC) knocked off Louisville in overtime at Littlejohn Coliseum this past Saturday for its 10th straight victory. The 3-0 start in the ACC is the program’s best in conference play since the 2006-’07 season.
However, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell isn’t letting his team get too out in front of its early success.
“It is very early,” he said Monday during the ACC’s weekly coaches’ teleconference. “It’s nice, obviously. I’m happy for my players because I know a lot of guys have worked really hard to get some positive publicity and to get some nice PR about our program and understand that all of their hard work is paying off.
“We also know that we have fifteen ACC games ahead and it is going to be tough sledding and it always is.”
The Tigers go to NC State, a team they just beat on Dec. 30, on Thursday and then host No.19 Miami this Saturday followed by a trip to Chapel Hill, N.C. next Tuesday, a place they are 0-58 at all-time, and face No. 18 North Carolina.
“Obviously, we have played well and found some ways to play some close games and obviously got a couple of wins away from home that have been good, but we also know it is January 8th and we know we have 15 league games ahead,” Brownell said. “But certainly, we are very pleased with our start. If we continue to work hard, prepare, good things happen to us and if we stay healthy then we will have a chance to have a good season.”
Right now, Clemson is one of just six teams in the country with one loss, and all six are currently 14-1 overall. The Tigers are ranked so high in the RPI because they defeated an Ohio State team on the road that knocked off No. 1 Michigan State. They beat a Florida team, who currently leads the SEC, in Florida. They blew out a good South Carolina team at home and won at Boston College after the Eagles knocked off a top-ranked Duke team earlier in the year in the same building.
“It is good,” Brownell said. “We have played some challenging non-conference games. We went to Ohio State as part of the Big Ten Challenge, played Florida down in Florida and went to a neutral site tournament to try to play some other good teams.
“We scheduled a couple of teams in our non-league home games that guaranteed games we thought would have good records so some of those things would happen.”
Now the Tigers just have to continue to take advantage of their schedule, which only gets harder from here.