Manie-festo: Did Tech burst Clemson's bubble?

Manie-festo: Did Tech burst Clemson's bubble?

News

Manie-festo: Did Tech burst Clemson's bubble?

By

The Clemson University men’s basketball team mistimed its setback by six days.

The Tigers amassed 41 points in the first half of its 21-point victory against Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon. Two days later, Clemson mustered merely 52 total points in an 11-point loss at Georgia Tech.

Clemson suffers rare loss to Georgia Tech

Clemson recorded 16 assists, eight turnovers and a .474 field goal percentage against Virginia Tech. The Tigers followed with seven assists, 14 turnovers and a .364 field goal percentage Monday night.

Junior guard Jordan Roper scored 11 of Clemson’s first 13 points against Virginia Tech. He closed the game against Georgia Tech with merely six.

Clemson did not allow any of its previous nine opponents to score more than 60 points. Georgia Tech produced 63 without scoring through the final two minutes. The Yellow Jackets converted 46.3 percent from the field, the second highest rate Clemson has permitted this season.

Consequently, Clemson lost to Georgia Tech for the first time since 2010.

Boxscore

Clemson was ranked 80th in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) standings released prior to the game Monday. Georgia Tech was 116th in RPI and last in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. Thus, for Clemson’s already thin hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament, the loss harms Clemson more than a win would have helped.

On Monday, ESPN college basketball analyst Joe Lunardi listed North Carolina State as one of the last four teams into the tournament. Clemson defeated the Wolfpack 68-57 in Raleigh on Jan. 28. Clemson also boosted its resume with nonconference wins against Louisiana State, Arkansas and High Point, three teams Lunardi also included in his bracket projection.

However, the slip at Georgia Tech will be lumped in with unappealing losses to Winthrop, Gardner-Webb and South Carolina. The remainder of Clemson’s conference schedule has yielded reasonable results.

On Saturday, Clemson will visit Duke, who is ranked No. 5 in RPI and in the USA TODAY coaches poll. If Clemson could have saved its scoring droughts and defensive lapses until Saturday, the performance could have been dismissed simply off the strength of the opponent — similarly to how Clemson’s 24-point loss to North Carolina or its 23-point loss at Virginia are now faint memories.

Instead, Clemson will need victories in remaining regular-season dates with Duke, No. 10 Notre Dame and N.C. State to repair its resume.

Unfortunately for Clemson, bracketology is based on figures and not film. RPI measures records, opponents’ records and opponents’ opponents’ records. It does not account for how fiercely Georgia Tech has scrapped in its 11 ACC losses. It does not measure how many contested jumpers South Carolina drained in the second half. It does not credit Clemson for near misses against Louisville and Notre Dame.

Figures, statistics, metrics cannot quantify the difficulty of winning. Yet, they are used to assess the quality of winning. As problematic and subjective the system may be, Clemson must operate by it.

The only remedy for a bad loss is a string of quality wins.

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports