And somewhat surprisingly, there is a reasonable chance they could play close to home for the first two rounds.
In fact, even if the Clemson basketball team is sent to the West or Midwest, there would be an opportunity to play its first two games relatively close to home.
As you know, the NCAA Tournament is divided into four regions: the East, Midwest, South and West. This year the East Regional ends up in Charlotte, the Midwest in Detroit, the South in Houston and the West in Phoenix.
Obviously it you are looking past the first two rounds, the East would be the ideal landing spot for the Tigers. Charlotte is approximately two hours from campus, and if the Tigers advance deep into the tournament, it wouldn't hurt to have as many Clemson fans there as possible.
However even if the Tigers are sent "out west" they could still play their first two games in the NCAA Tournament close to home.
"Close" is a relative term mind you, but when we say close here we mean driving-distance close.
The eight sites for first and second round games this year in the NCAA Tournament are as follows:
EAST: Raleigh, Denver, Washington D.C., Birmingham
SOUTH: Little Rock, Anaheim, Tampa, Omaha
WEST: Anaheim, Tampa, Washington D.C., Little Rock
MIDWEST: Birmingham, Denver, Omaha, Raleigh
Eight teams are invited to each city, with four coming from one region and four from another. As an example, Raleigh will host four teams from the East and four teams from the Midwest. Omaha will host four teams from the Midwest and four teams from the South.
In terms of proximity to Clemson, the driving distances would look like this:
1. Clemson to Birmingham - 270 miles
- This right here is a no-brainer. If the Tigers play their first and second round games in Alabama, call in sick to work that Thursday and Friday and plan on spending the weekend in Birmingham. The last time Clemson visited the Yellowhammer State, it beat the Crimson Tide 87-61 on New Year's Day.
2. Clemson to Raleigh - 299 miles
Again, another no-brainer. You go to Carter-Finley Stadium every other year to watch football, what's one more trip to support the Clemson basketball team in the Big Dance? Plus, you can poke fun at all the N.C. State fans that are wondering why their team couldn't even make the NIT.
3. Clemson to Washington D.C. - 530 miles
This is where the outer limits of a reasonable driving distance begin to be reached. 530 miles is a full day of driving. Better make sure you have someone else in the car with you so the trip can be made in shifts. However, you've done it before to watch the Tigers beat the Terps on the gridiron.
4. Clemson to Tampa - 570 miles
Again, almost the same distance to Tampa as it is to Washington, but surely Tampa would offer warmer weather. For all of you students, how about a spring break trip to Florida? That works. To all you ladder climbers in corporate America, you need a spring break too.
5. Clemson to Little Rock - 645 miles
If Washington D.C. and Tampa are the outer limits, Little Rock is the edge of the universe. This trip could be made in a day but you'd feel a whole lot better about yourself if you just jumped on a plane. Still, it's drivable and it's been 10 years since the Tigers last made the NCAA Tournament. Go ahead and do it.
6. Clemson to Omaha - 1,098 miles
This is truly the last stop where you should be driving. Some fans do it for baseball, but that's for a double-elimination tournament. If you are willing to drive 2,000 miles round trip to potentially watch one Clemson basketball game, I've got two words for you: super fan.
7. Clemson to Denver - 1,514 miles
Better check the frequent flyer miles before booking this one. The good news is if the Tigers bow out early, you may be able to get some quality skiing in at some of the local resorts. I recommend Vail or Steamboat Springs.
8. Clemson to Anaheim - 2,296 miles
Well it's just downright foolish to suggest this is drivable. The only good thing is if you did get in the car to drive to the west coast, you could probably hit up Las Vegas on the way. The bad news is after you lose all your money, you'd probably have to head home. Again, frequent flyer miles here are a must, plus some vacation time away from the office.
So while it truly is luck as far as where the Tigers play in the early rounds, five of the eight possible first and second round destinations are actually driveable.
And there's this little thing called the ACC Tournament this weekend in Charlotte. If you want to go somewhere that's truly driveable, well that's probably a good starting point as well.
Close to Home?
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