Overall, the Big 10 is 4-10-2 in the ACC Challenge. The Big 10 won the last challenge, but it hasn't been favorable since the series started in 1999. The Gophers are 8-8 in the challenge going 5-3 at home and 3-5 on the road. Clemson is 9-6 in the challenge, but they have lost the last 2.
Clemson matchup overview:
Last season record: 16-15 (8-10) vs. AP Top 25: (1-6)
This season: 4-1 1-0 vs. Big 10 opponents
Average point differential: 24.4 points
Vegas odds: Opened as a pick 'em game
Game time: Monday 8 pm. Williams Arena
Player to watch: Jaron Blossomgame (18.2 ppg, 61.1 FG%)
TV/Radio: ESPN2 and 1500 ESPN
This Clemson Tigers team is a bit bigger than Nebraska-Omaha, but nearly 40% of the shots they are taking are coming from outside the arc. Saying that, it isn't a shock that they haven't played in any close games. They live and die by the 3. Pitino's usage of Charles Buggs will be paramount in these types of games. Buggs is his stopper and he is well aware of his capability, but he also has shown quite a bit of offensive ability thus far, so you have to worry about getting him into foul trouble early. Fans have expressed concerns about Buggs' usage, however there does seem to be some subtle strategy that has saved him for the end of these close wins.
This game may very well come down to who has the hot hand. If the Gophers continue to look for Bakary in the low post they will have to worry about them collapsing on defense as Bakary hasn't yet shown his ability to pass out of a double team, "He is evolving," said Coach Pitino. Perhaps developing more offensive awareness will be next for Konate.
The Gophers have been doing their part in the challenge winning their last 4. If they can make it 5 in a row tomorrow night we should see more local recognition for this team and Coach Pitino who have won some close battles against some feisty, experienced small schools. If they don't win, hopefully it won't be because they weren't running the shooters off the 3-point line.