The 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament kicks off in Tampa as the 5th seed West Virginia Mountaineers take on the 12th seed Clemson Tigers in a Big Six clash. Tipoff is at 12:15 p.m., Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel will have the call for you on CBS.
Clemson is playing its 2nd game in less than 48 hours after the Tigers defeated UAB 70-52 Tuesday in the First Four in Dayton. 6'8" Sr. F Jerai Grant led Clemson with a 22 point, seven rebound effort on 10-of-15 shooting, as Clemson raced out to a 25-7 lead against the Blazers and never looked back. UAB was led by 6'5" Sr. G Jamarr Sanders, who had 19 points on 7-17 shooting. The Tigers were on a plane as soon as the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday, and Demontez Stitt was asked about the trip from Dayton to Tampa,
We left right after the game, so we probably left around 12:00. I remember checking my phone; the last time I checked it, about 12:00 we were on a plane. We didn't get here until 3:30, almost 4:00.
A big key to watch for is how Clemson's depth figures into the game at the later stages of the contest. All five starters for the Tigers starting played at least 29 minutes, with only Zavier Anderson and Milton Jennings receiving any significant minutes off the bench. Coach Brownell was asked about the fatigue setting in, and he seems confident in his team, but will be ready in case they come out slow,
I think we'll really be ready. I'm hoping that there's not some ‑‑ I'll notice if our defense isn't the way it needs to be that we might have a little bit of fatigue and then we've got to figure some things out
But our mindset is that we should be fine, we should be fresh, we should be ready to play.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins thinks the Tigers won't have much of a fatigue factor and expects them to be at 100%,
Kids today, they play at 2:00 and they go get a hamburger and french fries and a chocolate shake and they come back and play at 6:00. It's kind of a different breed of athletes, I think. I think they'll be fine.
This should be a defensive struggle, as both teams rely on their defense to win this season. As our Clemson blog Shakin the Southland points out, both teams are in the Top 30 nationally in defensive efficiency, and it will be a struggle all afternoon to put points on the scoreboard. Sr. F Kevin Jones acknowledges the fact that WVU needs to take care of the ball in order to win today,
We've got to handle their pressure and we can't throw them the ball because that's where they thrive is in transition.
Surprisingly, West Virginia is only listed as a slight 2.5 point favorite this afternoon, but I think Clemson wilts late in the game and the Mountaineers win the race to 55.