Tigers could make history on Friday

GREENSBORO, N.C. - It's never happened in the history of the Clemson men's basketball program.

WHAT: Boston College vs. Clemson
WHERE: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) - Greensboro, N.C.
WHEN: Friday, Mar. 11 (2 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson by 3.5

Yet it could if the Tigers find a way to beat Boston College Friday in the Quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament.

While it won't be known officially until Sunday, a win Friday over the Eagles would nearly guarantee Clemson would reach the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

The Tigers are currently projected as a No. 12 seed in this year's Big Dance, avoiding the "First Four" games to be played in Dayton, Ohio early next week by several services, including ESPN's Joe Lunardi and WarrenNolan.com.

A win Friday would give Clemson a season sweep over fellow bubble teams B.C. and Virginia Tech and only strengthen a resume that's improved steadily by the week the second half of the year.

By finishing in fourth place in the league, courtesy of last weekend's win over Virginia Tech, Clemson has also enjoyed the luxury of watching Thursday's ACC Tournament action from the stands.

"A bye in the first round is really big," senior point guard Demontez Stitt said. "Because you have more legs. That's big for us. Especially with the way we pressure and bring energy. This extra time has been big for us."

But the task at hand will be anything but easy.

In Clemson's way of securing an NCAA Tournament bid is another bubble team that features four senior starters who are fighting for their postseason lives.

Clemson beat B.C. in February, 77-69, but the Eagles are coming off of four straight victories, including one on the road at Virginia Tech and one in the ACC Tournament Thursday against Wake Forest.

Furthermore, the Tigers have lost in their first game of the ACC Tournament in each of last two seasons, with upset losses to Georgia Tech in 2009 and N.C. State last season.

And if that wasn't enough, consider Clemson owns a 16-57 record in the ACC Tournament with just two appearances in the finals (1962 and 2008) and no tournament championships. The Tigers are also the only original member of the ACC that has never won the ACC Tournament.

Clemson enters this year's tournament led by Stitt, who averages just over 14 points per game. Boston College is led by the ACC's No. 3 scorer in Reggie Jackson (18.3 PPG).

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell has been successful in conference tournament play in stops at Wright State and UNC Wilmington - owning a career record of 15-5. (Getty Images)
Limiting Jackson will be priority No. 1 for the ACC's top ranked scoring defense. The junior guard scored a team-high 27 points against the Tigers earlier this year and routinely came up with big shot after big shot to keep the Eagles in the game during the second game.

B.C. also features two other lethal scorers in Joe Trapani and Biko Paris.

"With Trapani, he's a great player," said Andre Young. "They move him all around, three, four and five. He sets picks. It really can be confusing at times, because he can shoot threes. Guys on the weak side have to show. Then, we have to run out, close out, [and] really contest."

Jackson, Trapani and Paris all went for 20-plus points in B.C.'s win over Wake Forest Thursday.

The Tigers are led by first-year head coach Brad Brownell, who owns an all-time record of 15-5 in conference tournament play. The Eagles also have a first-year coach in Steve Donahue.

Brownell has done the unthinkable after Clemson stumbled out of the gates to a 6-4 start and three consecutive losses to Old Dominion, Michigan and South Carolina.

Not only did his team get better in every phase of the game as the season went along, challenging league kingpins Duke and North Carolina along the way, the Tigers also finished among the top four teams in the league, led the league in free throw shooting in conference games and finished 3-1 against FSU, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

And that record will likely have to move to 4-1 if the Tigers are going to make history Friday afternoon.

NOTES: Clemson's legend representative at this week's ACC Tournament will be Greg Buckner, who had one of the most memorable moments in school history in Greensboro at the 1996 tournament when his dunk with 0.6 seconds left knocked off North Carolina.

Boston College (20-11, 10-7)
G #5 Biko Paris (6-1, 194) – 9.9 PPG, 3.5 APG
G #00 Reggie Jackson (6-3, 208) – 18.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG
F #31 Corey Raji (6-6, 232) – 12.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG
F #12 Joe Trapani (6-8, 232) – 14.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG
C #52 Josh Southern (6-10, 263) – 6.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG

Clemson (20-10, 9-7)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 180) – 14.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG
G #11 Andre Young (5-9, 170) – 10.8 PPG, 3.0 APG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 210) – 7.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG
F #45 Jerai Grant (6-8, 230) – 12.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG
F #31 Devin Booker (6-8, 245) – 8.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG

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