Clemson is in a different position than it has been in recent years as it heads into the ACC Tournament on Thursday.
Instead of needing to pile up wins for an NCAA Tournament or NIT berth, the Tigers are comfortably in the NCAA tourney days ahead of Selection Sunday.
Still, Clemson can improve its seeding with a strong showing in Brooklyn, N.Y.
ESPN currently has the Tigers projected as a No. 5 seed and facing Loyola-Chicago in Boise, while CBS Sports has Clemson as a No. 5 seed facing South Dakota State in Boise.
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No matter where Clemson ends up, coach Brad Brownell is thankful the Tigers will not be sweating come Sunday.
“We’ve kind of known for a while that we’re an NCAA Tournament team, and we’ve earned that,” Brownell said Tuesday. “Now it’s just about trying to continue to improve to get better. I think our team needs to get better if we’re going to have any kind of significant success in these next two tournaments. So we’re really pushing to do that and anxious to see how it works out.”
Clemson holds an RPI of No. 11 entering the ACC tourney. The Tigers are 3-3 against the RPI top 25 and 3-4 against teams with an RPI between 26 and 50.
Clemson will face the winner of Boston College and N.C. State on Thursday and likely will play the No. 1 team in the country in Virginia if it can advance to Friday’s action.
With a win, the Tigers then would play in the championship game and could face a top five RPI team in Duke or North Carolina.
“Yeah, we keep an eye on seeding just because we don’t live in a bubble… People are going to talk to you about it all the time, so yeah, can you move up a line or two? Yeah. Does it really matter that much? I don’t know if it does. I just want our team playing well at the right time,” Brownell said. “I think that’s more important than any of the other stuff. If your team’s in a good position, you’re playing well. And then sometimes in these things, it comes down to matchups. Some teams, you just match up better with than others, and I think you can go through leagues and analyze teams and see that.”
Clemson struggled its last time out, falling 55-52 at Syracuse on Saturday.
The Tigers have been working to improve since then, and Brownell has a few things he wants to see his team tweak against N.C. State or Boston College.
“Just a lot of little things fundamentally that we’ve got to continue to do better. We’ve got to continue to rebound every day. You’re always talking about taking care of the ball. We’ve got to be a little sharper with what we do execution wise. It’s nothing drastic. There’s nothing you’re going to drastically change in the last week,” he said. “We don’t have magic practices, but we do have to try to shore some things up and just make sure that our guys understand that there are some things we’ve got to continue to work on and get better.”
No matter what happens the rest of the year, Brownell is proud of what his team has accomplished.
The Tigers finished tied for third in the ACC after being projected to finish 13th, despite losing their best player on the team in Donte Grantham halfway through the year.
“This is going to be a very rewarding NCAA Tournament certainly for me, because it’s been a few years since we’ve been and our older players that have been through a lot. That’s the thing that, again, the seniors, they’re the guys that for 20 months weren’t in our building, played a year in Greenville. Tried to recruit, you had no building to recruit to,” Brownell said. “You bring kids on campus and you can’t really show them some of the things with basketball. I think the job at times was harder than people realized. And so now, a couple years later, for us to be where we are, certainly that part of it is rewarding for sure.”