IOWA (4-0) VS. CLEMSON (4-1)

DATE: November 25, 2022
TIME: 6:00 p.m. Central Time
LOCATION: Northwest Florida State College Arena, Niceville, FL
TV: CBS Sports Network
RADIO: Learfield Sports
STREAMING: CBS Sports Online
LINE: Iowa -8
KENPOM: Iowa -8 (Iowa 76% chance to win)

While basking in the glow of a Big Ten West title, enjoy an early night side of basketball, as the Hawkeyes take on Clemson in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic. Tipoff is at 6:00 Central Time, so you might miss the first part while the soccer game ends. It’s okay, we won’t tell. The winner gets the winner of TCU-Cal (almost certainly TCU, because Cal is horrible on God level), which will be played after this game, on Saturday afternoon.

Clemson is led by veteran head coach Brad Brownell, who was hired 26 days after Fran McCaffery was announced at Iowa. His results have been extremely Clemson: three tournament appearances in twelve seasons, with one trip to the Sweet 16. in 2018. The Tigers finished above .500 in all but one of those twelve seasons, but within three games of .500 in six of them. It’s really no surprise that the Brownell seat is excited about this season.

So far this season, Clemson has dispensed four cupcakes by double-digit margins and lost to rival South Carolina in a game in which they scored 0.83 points per possession. South Carolina followed that win with losses to Colorado State, Davidson, and Furman. South Carolina is bad. You shouldn’t lose to South Carolina.

Brownell certainly has a signature style of play: The offense runs at a medium pace, the defense built to fill the lane and extend the opposition’s possessions until the end of the shot clock. His good teams have been built on world defense: the four times Clemson has won 20 games with Brownell, his defense has been in the top 20 in efficiency. Every other season, he’s been somewhere between 33 and 101. He’s 69 so far this season. That should be good for Iowa, especially since Clemson has struggled to defend the perimeter; opponents shoot 37.5% from threes, and neither of those opponents are currently ranked in the Kenpom Top 125.

The big story so far this season for Clemson has been the state of junior center PJ Hall (6’10”, 245). Hall was probably Clemson’s best player last season, but he had foot surgery after the end of last season and then suffered a Hall injured his kneecap in July.As a result, he is not a starter and has played limited minutes in four games.On Monday night, he logged just 13 minutes against Loyola (Md.). If healthy, Hall is a fifth-stretch who shot 55 percent from two and 31 percent from three last year, but that seems like a big “if” right now Clemson has been starting the second-year center Ben Middlebrooks (6’10”, 240) in his absence, but Middlebrooks is very much a placeholder: He’s scored 7 total points in five games and has yet to play more than 11 minutes in a game.

Instead, Clemson has mostly gone small ball, with senior power forward Hunter Tyson (6’8″, 220) and sophomore power forward Ian Schieffelin (6’7″, 230) playing in tandem in the first line. Both players are solid rebounders, with Tyson posting double-double against The Citadel (19 points, 13 rebounds, hey Austin Ash, how are you?) and Bellarmine (11 and 10). Tyson is also averaging nearly five 3-point attempts per game and is shooting 33 percent, if he has any misunderstandings about his role. Schieffelin was a monster off the bench against The Citadel, scoring 20 points and 14 boards, but he hasn’t made as much of an impact since. Freshmen Chauncey Wiggins (6’10”, 205) and RJ Godfrey (6’7″, 225) had some runs in the Loyola blowout, but they haven’t been seen much else.

Clemson runs a three-man backcourt, led by junior point guard Chase Hunter (6’3″, 205). Hunter has been red hot so far this season, shooting SIXTY-EIGHT PERCENT from three and averaging 16. points per game.Wing Forward Brevin Galloway (6’3″, 210) hasn’t been as effective from deep, scoring just 5-of-18 shooting so far this season, but he gets in the lane and commits a ton of faults. Guard Alex Hemenway (6’4″, 195) is a pure perimeter shooter, but he’s shooting a team-high 48% on 25 attempts this season. Freshmen Dillon Hunter (6’3″, 195 ) and Josh Beadle (6’3″, 185) provide bench depth, but neither has been productive.

So here’s the thing: Even if Hall is healthy and can play more than 30 minutes, Clemson isn’t deep. The back zone is essentially three guys playing 30 minutes, with some occasional help from a couple of warm bodies; the frontcourt isn’t much better. The whole Brownell slow-paced defense thing isn’t just a style for this team. it’s a must. And Iowa is the second-quickest offensive team in the nation. The slow possession defense scheme is also Shaheen Holloway’s calling card, and Iowa dragged them to a 70 possession game on their court. Unless Hall can play 30 minutes, Clemson will also have trouble closing the lane against a bigger, lankier and deeper Iowa front line. Iowa should go to the Emerald Coast and drag Clemson into the deep water.

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