GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Tigers will learn the extent of the damage done by Thursday night's loss when they gather Sunday to watch their fate during CBS's selection show.
For the second straight season the Tigers' ACC tournament experience ended before the top seeds arrived to the arena. And for a second consecutive year, such a fall figures to cost the Tigers in regard to their NCAA tournament seeding.
Clemson coach Oliver Purnell feels "secure" the Tigers have clinched an NCAA at-large berth. And it would be a surprise if the Tigers were not in the field with 20 wins, a winning record in the ACC (9-7) and a No. 33 RPI rating on their resume.
But Clemson's stock is falling along with Purnell's chances of securing his first NCAA tournament victory, which would have been made easier with a better seed.
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In ESPN's latest bracket projections, Clemson dropped to a No. 9 seed, where Joe Lunardi predicts the Tigers will face No. 8 seed Northern Iowa in Milwaukee for the right to likely play top-seeded Kentucky in the second round.
Bracketology 101 has the Tigers dropping from a No. 7 to a No. 8 seed, playing UNLV in Oklahoma City. Awaiting Clemson in that scenario, would be No. 1 seed Kansas.
Clemson's downward spiral last year dropped the Tigers to a No. 7 seed, matched against 10th-seeded Michigan, which upset the Tigers in the first-round in Kansas City.
To avoid a second straight year of consecutive first-round losses in postseason play, Purnell says the Tigers will have to better sustain their focus and energy levels.
"For 40 minutes (N.C. State) battled and banged and never let down," Purnell said. "We've done that, at times, from an emotional standpoint and a physical standpoint. That's what we've got to do the next time we play."
The next time Clemson plays, a number of corrections are needed.
N.C. State out-rebounded Clemson by nine. Clemson also again struggled from the three throw line, making 10-of-18 free throws. Star forward Trevor Booker made 2-of-8 free throws.
The Tigers also struggled to create off the dribble and with entry passes, producing more turnovers (15) than assists (nine).
Clemson must also improve their play on the road. The Tigers went 14-2 at Littlejohn Coliseum this season but are 7-8 away from home.
The Tigers have failed to match opponents' energy in back-to-back days in non-home environments at Wake and against N.C. State.
Said point guard Demontez Stitt after the loss to Wake: "It seemed like they wanted it more. We just didn't play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion.
"You can't really explain it."