Tomorrow, Tech travels to Clemson for the first game in a two game road trip. Before the game, I sat down with Jay Ingles from Shakin the Southland to ask some questions about Clemson's season thus far and what to expect tomorrow.
Q: Clemson started out ACC play great, but has struggled recently, losing 4 of their last 6. How are fans reacting to this?
A: Most fans were expecting the Tigers to regress to the mean a little bit after the hot start to ACC play, but probably not to the degree where they lose 4 of 6. Three of those losses were on the road though, and the only one you could really have expected Clemson to win was the game at Virginia Tech. The #FireBrownell crowd has conveniently started to show up again, but the only bad loss Clemson has really incurred recently was the one at VT.
Q: What players outside of Blossomgame should Tech fans look out for? Is there another starter or player off the bench who has the ability to go off at any time?
A: Clemson fans have the joy of watching a team full of wild cards every night (with the exception of Blossomgame), so every player is really a potential x-factor in any given game. Jordan Roper is the guy who can really catch fire and turn a game in the Tigers' favor more so than anybody else. Backup center Sidy Djitte is another guy Clemson needs to have a good game, as the Tigers will need guys who can battle Georgia Tech's bigs in the paint.
Q: When Tech played at Phillips Arena in 2012, they unsurprisingly had their worst attendance this century. This year Clemson is playing off campus in Greenville while the Littlejohn gets renovated. How have the team and fans felt about playing off campus this year, especially somewhere so far from the school?
A: Playing 45 minutes from campus sucks for the team, but it has been great for Clemson fans who live in and around Greenville (which is a large portion of the fan base). The only downsides from an atmosphere standpoint are the low student turnout (those who come have to load up on buses and make the trip) and the less intimate feel of the arena, which doesn't make opposing players feel like the crowd is on top of them the way Littlejohn did. Interestingly enough, the crowds have actually been larger than they typically were at Littlejohn because the arena is larger and it's easier to get Greenville fans to drive 10 minutes to a game than 45.
Q: Clemson hasn't been in the tournament in five seasons? Is this the year they get back to the big dance?
A: If you had asked me a week ago, I would have said they were in decent shape, but back-to-back losses have pushed Clemson into a much more desperate position. The Tigers' tournament profile is bizarre because their RPI is not strong and they have some dreadful non-conference losses, but there are few teams with the kind of high-end wins they have. Clemson is out of the tournament as it stands today, but it still has the opportunity to play its way back into the conversation if it can get hot again down the stretch. The popular sentiment is that the Tigers need to win 5 of their last 6 to have a shot, and I tend to agree with that.
Q: Clemson is favored by six tomorrow, but Tech has yet to lose an ACC game by double digits. What's your final prediction?
A: I think Georgia Tech is better than its record suggests because of the close fashion of so many of its losses. Clemson will need to play well to win, and it can't afford to lose this one if it has any designs on making the NCAA Tournament. I think the Tigers will get back in the win column, but I expect it to be a close dogfight and am certainly not sleeping in the Jackets.
Thanks again to Jay Ingles for taking the time to answer our questions. Tech takes on Clemson tomorrow at 2pm ET. Be sure to tune in on RSN/ESPN3.