With their thrilling 62-60 come from behind win over TCU in overtime Sunday night, the Tigers set themselves up for a date with 4-0 Colorado in the title game MGM Main Event Tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for 11:30pm and it will be televised on ESPN2.
Tonight’s game is not only a chance at winning this tournament, but should also be a good gauge as to exactly where this 5-1 Clemson basketball team stands right now. The Buffaloes are a solid Top 25 squad, sitting at #21 in the AP and #24 in the Coaches Polls, while KenPom has them at #28.
Getting a W against this Colorado team would give Clemson two solid, resume building wins out in Las Vegas. TCU was #51 in the KenPom going into their game Sunday night.
Brad Brownell’s team will need to likely shoot the ball a little better than they did against TCU, though that won’t be an easy task. Colorado is tough on the defensive side, ranking 9th in defensive efficiency. They also shoot the three well and are currently ranked 28th in that department.
The Tigers will need to contain Tyler Bey in this one. The Buffaloes wing man is currently averaging 14 points, 12 boards, and 3.3 steals per game. At 6’7 he’s also been a guy that is tough to score on.
Clemson’s Tevin Mack is the likely candidate called on to guard Bey and there’s no question he’ll have his work cut out for him. We’ve already seen one really good wing go off against this Clemson team this season when Va Tech’s Lander Nolley killed the Tigers in the opener.
However, the biggest key for Clemson is Aamir Simms. We need to see the Simms we saw down the stretch against TCU, and hopefully shooting the ball a little better than he did that night. If Simms brings his A game and Mack can continue to do what he’s done thus far, this team has a shot at winning this one.
KenPom is calling for a close one, predicting a 68-64 Colorado win. However, if the Tigers can continue to play well defensively and shoot the ball a little better, I like their chances at pulling the upset.