We were all happy when Tech locked up that first ACC win on Saturday, but we can't be satisfied with that. It's time to start looking for where the next win will come from. Although the Jackets are a clear underdog tonight, I think there is a good chance we could come back home with a win.
First, let's go over some facts about the game tonight. We will not score 82 points. We will not have a 23 point lead at halftime. We will not go on a 16-0 run to start the game, forcing Clemson to call 2 timeouts in the first 2:30 of the game. Clemson will play good, hard defense and use up a lot of the shot clock, much like we will. They will try to feed their post players and fight hard for rebounds.
I'm pretty confident in those statements, but if I'm wrong on the first three, it might be the tastiest crow I've ever had to eat. Devin Booker is Clemson's most important player, but he has been struggling of late trying to play through an illness. He may be fully recovered by now, and if so, expect a good, old-fashioned center battle between he and Daniel Miller. Miller has 3 inches on the 6-8 Booker, but the weight of the two young men is only about 7 lbs. in Daniel's favor. Booker has a good low-post game, look for Clemson to feed him if he gets good position on the low block. If Daniel is patient, however, and doesn't bite on up-fakes, he could get a few blocks and make Booker uncomfortable with his height/reach advantage. This is the match-up I am most looking forward to; hopefully Booker is fully healthy, because it could be very fun to watch.
Chris Bolden had a really good start to the Wake Forest game, but got in foul trouble and was unable to log the minutes you would want to see from a shooter who was clearly hot. I think he has been the most improved player since the start of the season, though, and I hope he uses the experience of that game to not pick up cheap hand check fouls so far from the basket.
Elsewhere, Marcus Georges-Hunt could be up against a very tough match-up against K.J. McDaniels. McDaniels is a very good defender who averages 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. MGH could use this aggressiveness to his advantage if he is clever, but it could very well be tough sledding for the Yellow Jacket freshman.
Expect a slow, physical, defensive game tonight. It may be a race to 60 points. We are all riding high after that win over Wake on Saturday, but if the shots aren't falling early, there is a chance our young team could lose that confidence they gained and remember the 5 previous games. We also still haven't seen this team close out any tight games, so a close game late on the road concerns me. I think this game may be similar to the VT game at home, where Tech gets to the end of the game and tightens up because they "haven't been there before." The question is, will the defense carry us through? Will a leader step up and hit a shot or two? I may be an optimist, but I think the answer will be yes, and the man to hit that shot will be Chris Bolden. My pick tonight is 64-59 GT.