The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will seek revenge on Tuesday against the Clemson Tigers, who defeated Wake Forest 73-68 on December 31st. The Deacs had all but wrapped that one up, but absolutely collapsed in the closing 3 minutes. To preview Tuesday’s Valentine’s Day contest, I am joined by my good friend Ryan Kantor of SB Nation’s Shakin The Southland. You can also follow Ryan on Twitter @ryan_kantor.
If you want to see my answers to Ryan’s questions then you can do so HERE.
Blogger So Dear (BSD): The Clemson basketball team had a difficult week. First they got blown out at Florida State by 48 points, then had the excruciating buzzer beater loss to Syracuse, and finally failing to get a shot off in the final seconds at Cameron Indoor. How do you believe this Clemson team will respond in this game against Wake? Will they come out with energy?
Shakin The Southland (STS): College football's bowl season provides a great lesson on why you shouldn't try to predict the motivation level of young athletes. So many said the Jim Grobe coached Baylor Bears would come out flat and lethargic against Boise State, but that obviously wasn't the case.
It's absolutely possible Clemson will come out flat and lose at home. Maybe they've given up on their season now that they essentially have to win six of their next seven games to have a decent NCAA Tournament shot. It's also possible they come out on fire after proving they can compete with Syracuse and Duke. Neither would surprise me.
BSD: Despite Clemson's 3-9 ACC record, the Tigers still have a very manageable schedule remaining. Are you optimistic about the rest of their season?
STS: I initially picked Clemson to make the NCAA Tournament, but they've been somewhat unlucky as all the close games in conferences have seemed to fall out of their favor. They're 0-5 in ACC games decided by four points or fewer. Clemson is better than their record indicates, but I also think its intellectually dishonest to attribute all their close losses to luck. They often miss clutch free throws and seemingly never come up with crucial defensive stands.
I could see them finishing 4-2 down the stretch to reach seven ACC wins and make the NIT, which is a thing.
BSD: What do you believe is Clemson's biggest advantage in this game?
STS: Wake Forest doesn't do a good job forcing turnovers, which makes it harder for them to take advantage of Clemson's weakness in transition defense. While Wake Forest's offense is excellent, if they aren't able to score off turnovers, Clemson's offense, which is oddly better than their defense, may outpace them.
BSD: What is an area where you believe Wake Forest has an advantage?
STS: The Deacons have good size in the interior and could win the battle on the glass against a Clemson team that struggles to box out and secure rebounds. Additionally, the Tigers three-point defense is poor and Wake Forest has the talent to make them pay.
BSD: Finally, let's get a prediction for this one.
STS: I've correctly predicted our last five contests. Unlike this past weekend when I was very confident Clemson would lose to Duke, I'm less confident in this pick. That said, I am going with the Clemson Tigers as they play at home. Wake Forest's best road win this season is at NC State. I know our basketball team isn't great, but we're not NC State! As long as we don't come out flat - a possibility you alluded to in your opening question - I expect Clemson to secure their fourth ACC win of the season on Valentine’s Day.