CARDS TAKE A TIGER BY THE TAIL TONIGHT
|No Nelly tonight, it appears, for the Tigers.|
They don't play games on paper or by statistical tendencies, however, and all ACC contests are challenging...especially when you are the visiting squad.
Louisville takes on the conference-winless Tigers tonight in the Littlejohn Coliseum tonight at 7 p.m. I've always loved that arena name and wonder if Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Maid Marion will be in attendance...with some mutton, mead and a sling of arrows to help the Tigers try and take down the Jeff Walz led high-flying Birds.
It started out to be a pretty good season for head coach Audra Smith's felines. They leapt to an 8-0 start and people were wondering aloud if there was a chance that they might pull the upset on two very worthy foes that lay in wait next...visiting PAC 12 powerhouse Oregon and at in-state rival South Carolina.
The bubble burst, though...Oregon leaving Sherwood Forest with a convincing 87-57 win and the Gamecocks putting the Tigers back on I-26 with a 83-61 beating. Clemson would win their final three non-conference tilts to enter ACC play at 11-2...but success against the Atlantic Coast slate has been non-existent for Jaia Alexander and Aliyah Collier...losing their seven games by an average of 24 points and six of them by 12 or more points.
At NC State, Clemson was only down by two going into the fourth quarter but were outscored 18-8 in the final ten minutes. Clemson did have 42 points in the paint and held the Wolfpack to just 34% from the hardwood...but 17 Clemson turnovers led to 19 NC State points. The Tigers suffered a crucial blow when junior point-guard Nelly Perry separated her shoulder against Syracuse in early January and has sat out the last five games. The Tigers definitely miss those team high 14.5 ppg per game and her court-leadership.
It's not as if there isn't any other additional talent on the scenic South Carolina campus, though. Danielle Edwards, Alexander, Collier and Kobi Thornton are all capable of double-figure performances any night they take the court. The problem seems to be the accuracy in their shooting...Clemson is last in the ACC with 38%...and turnovers...where Clemson is second-worst in cough-up's...next to Boston College.
Keeping the ball when you get it so you can shoot it and then making it when you get a chance. Two very important concepts for winning basketball. Clemson's best chance may be moving the contest to Greenville's Bon Secours Wellness Arena...an ice hockey facility that one site reporting on Clemson basketball lists as the Tiger's home court. I'm just not sure how well Myisha and Jazmine would do on ice skates or on a frozen surface....
For Louisville, it would be best served if the Cards took the southeastern sojourn as a business trip. Go in, be efficient, don't get anyone hurt, play fundamental basketball for 40 minutes and get out with the "W". The 'numbers' indicate Louisville should be a 15-point favorite. I'd be surprised if it's that anywhere near being that close...but you never know what a wounded tiger backed in a corner might do. Dabo Sweeney and a pep talk might be in order...
Clemson actually leads the overall series between these two 3-2...but the three Clemson wins came before 1994. Last year, the Cards won 75-33 on January 28th. Myisha Hines-Allen missed the contest because of the death of her grandfather...but Sam Fuehring filled in with 12 points. The Cards held the Tigers to 12 first half points. Louisville's last trip to Littlejohn...in the Cards first ACC season...resulted in a 81-49 win.
The ACC Network Extra will have the contest live. I'll probably switch back and forth between that and the call of Nick Curran and A.J. on Cards Radio 790.
Your musical selection for the day would be the classic Buck Owens ditty "Tiger by the Tail"....LINK: BUCK and DEAN MARTIN? YES, THEY DID DO A DUET
-- Louisville claws the Clemson Tigers in Littlejohn Arena tonight. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't prevent this upcoming Cardinal win...
-- Florida State goes to Georgia Tech to trade oranges for peaches or pecans and the Seminoles should come out on top of the wampum session. FSU will do.
-- Miami hosts the UNC Tarheels needing a win. They've lost the last two and were embarrassed at Syracuse. They get back on track tonight with a win.
-- NC State has the Pitt Panthers in Reynolds Coliseum tonight and Ms and Mr. Wuf should have plenty to dance about. If it were the Steelers...but it isn't and State should improve to 6-2 in conference.
-- Virginia Tech travels to Charlottesville for an in-state match up against the UVA Wahoos. Tech will welcome this one after facing and losing to Duke and FSU and should get the "W"
-- Wake Forest provides the Boston College Eagles with a landing zone tonight and should go to 4-3 in conference with a win over Baldwin's bunch. Wake is my "surprise" school so far in the ACC WBB conference. They're demonic.
-- Notre Dame and Duke is the premier ACC WBB tussle of the evening and it should be a good one in South Bend. Which Duke squad will show up? I'm going with the Irish to win a close one...unless Grayson Allen shows up. Road trip!
I'm 40-9 in predictions and that's good for 81.6%. I'm waiting for my steak knives. I'm still saying that, at this juncture of the season, nine ACC teams should receive NCAA Tournament bids. Plenty of hoops left, yes...I know that...but if the pairings were today...I see FSU, Notre Dame, Louisville, Duke, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Miami and Wake Forest as dance candidates.
I'm leaving out Georgia Tech and Virginia here...but if they catch fire in their final 10 ACC games, the committee would have to look at them.
What say you?
farewell Mary Tyler Moore. Mr. Grant (Ed Asner) out-lived her.