Tigers Punch Their Ticket

Admit it, you tried to turn the television off when Clemson fell behind 59-39 to Maryland Sunday night at the Comcast Center.

After all, with just over 11 minutes remaining in the second half and Clemson trailing by 20 points, there was nothing that gave any indication this team was about to mount the biggest comeback in school history.

Only the true diehards likely remained tuned in to see if the Tigers could make the score somewhat respectable. But nobody in their right mind could have the thought the Tigers could pull off a comeback like that.

Not down by 20.

Not on the road and certainly not in the ACC ... against Maryland, the same team that beat No. 1 North Carolina on its home court earlier this season.

And especially not on senior night.

Even head coach Oliver Purnell had never been a part of anything like what transpired.

"I've coached a lot of games, but I can't remember coming from 20 down, especially in a game that was as significant as this," he said. "I think this is a game that cements us in the NCAA Tournament."

Indeed it does.

For anybody that even slightly doubted the NCAA Tournament resume of this program this year, let that doubt be 100 percent erased.

Terrence Oglesby made 4-of-10 three-pointers Sunday night, including the game-winner with 2.3 seconds left to give Clemson a 73-70 win and a secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
After Terrence Oglesby calmly drilled a three-pointer to give the Tigers an incredible 73-70 come-from-behind win, the Tigers punched their ticket into the Big Dance.

"Like I told the kids when we started the season, we are going to bust down the doors to the NCAA Tournament and that's exactly what we did," Purnell said. "It's very gratifying."

Sunday night would mark the first time in school history a Clemson basketball team would rally from 20 points down to secure a win. And it happened on the road. And it happened in the ACC.

And ... it couldn't have happened at a more important time.

Despite already reaching eight wins in the ACC and having an RPI most any at-large team would die for, a loss Sunday night would mean the Tigers' two remaining games would move from improving tournament seeding to getting off the proverbial "bubble."

The only bubble the Tigers will be worrying about now, that is after potentially bursting Maryland's, is Virginia Tech's.

The Hokies currently sit alone in fourth-place in the ACC at 17-11 and 8-6 in the ACC with two games remaining, including their season-finale at Clemson next Saturday.

But that's a discussion for another day. After Sunday nigh't sensational win, the Tigers have already punched their ticket to the Big Dance for the first time in 10 years. The only question that remains is how high of a seed can be reached with two regular season games and the ACC Tournament left on the schedule?

Sunday's win gives the Tigers opportunity to improve their seeding from what would likely be a No. 7 or No. 6 seed to possibly a No. 5 or No. 4 with any kind of strong finish.

Now sitting at 21-7 overall and 9-5 in ACC play, Clemson will almost certainly move into the Top 25 Monday, especially after a handful of teams near the bottom of both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls lost last week while the Tigers went 2-0.

Unfortunately, the polls play virtually no part in seeding come tournament time.

Still, Sunday's win could play a huge role in getting the Tigers one or two spots higher two weeks from now on Selection Sunday. Outside of building confidence for the rest of the schedule, keep in mind Maryland was ranked inside the RPI Top 100 (No. 59), which means the Tigers are now 6-1 versus teams ranked between No. 51 and 100.

Plus it was a win on the road, Clemson's third in ACC play this season.

And, Clemson is also now 7-3 in its last 10 games and 9-4 in its last 13.

While the numbers speak for themselves, the important thing is Clemson, without question, is finally back in the Big Dance.

And the Tigers punched their ticket by pulling off the most incredible comeback in school history.

And to think you were going to turn your TV off?

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