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Countdown to Tipoff: Previewing Clemson, Wake Forest, and VPISU

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Two coaches on the rise, and one coaching for his job.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson Tigers

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Clemson vs Kansas Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Clemson, SC

2017-2018 Record: 25-10, 11-7 in conference

Head Coach: Brad Brownell, 149-113 at Clemson, 316-198 Overall

Best Season: 1980 – Elite Eight

Record vs. Jackets: 70-62

Pre-Season pick: 6th in the ACC, 22nd in AP Pre-Season Poll

Leading returning scorer: Marcquise Reed, 15.8 points per game

It’s been a great 12 months for Brad Brownell and the Tigers. The seat under the Clemson head man was scorching hot and many expected him to be out the door. A pre-season pick of 13th in the ACC turned into a season where the Tigers tied for 3rd in the ACC, a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and a Sweet Sixteen loss to Kansas. The Tigers return four seniors who where double figure scorers last season, led by pre-season All-ACC 2nd team selection Marcquise Reed. The two headed monsters of Reed and Shelton Mitchell form one of the better back-courts in the conference and Elijah Thomas and Javan White are a formidable duo in the front court. Brownell looks to have the senior leadership and depth needed to build on a banner year in Clemson.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Syracuse vs Wake Forest Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Winston Salem, NC

2017-2018 Record: 11-20, 4-14 in conference

Head Coach: Danny Manning, 53-74 at Wake Forest, 92-102 Overall

Best Season: 1962 – Final Four

Record vs. Jackets: 40-42

Pre-Season pick: 14th in the ACC

Leading returning scorer: Brandon Childress, 9.1 points per game

From a coach who worked his way off the hot seat in Brownell, to a coach who is squarely in the cross hairs in Danny Manning. The Deacons look to be a young team this season, with only 3 returning players off last seasons team, Childress, Chaundee Brown, and 7-0 Olivier Sarr. Childress looks to be the primary ball handler and court general for the Deacs. Manning worked hard on the recruiting trail and signed the 23rd ranked class in the country. The jewel of the class is 6-8 Jaylen Hoard, a five-star recruit and the 24th rated player in the country. Look for Hoard and fellow top 100 ranked recruit Isaiah Mucius to play integral roles in the fight to save Manning’s job.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Hokies

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Virginia Tech vs Notre Dame Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Blacksburg, VA

2017-2018 Record: 21-12, 10-8 in conference

Head Coach: Buzz Williams, 74-60 at VPISU, 227-146 Overall

Best Season: 1967 – Elite Eight

Record vs. Jackets: 18-6

Pre-Season pick: 5th in the ACC, 15th in AP Pre-Season Poll

Leading returning scorer: Justin Robinson, 14.0 points per game

Buzz Williams has brought VPI out of the bottom of the ACC and built them into a competitive program. The Hokies return four double figure scorers from last season’s NCAA tournament team. Robinson leads the scoring, but the Hokies three other players that they can lean on to help carry the scoring load; Ahmed Hill and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, two 6-5 guards who both shot .400 or better from behind the arc last season, and 6-10 forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. Landers Nolley was the jewel in what was a lower ranked recruiting class, he was number 67 ranked player in the 2018 class. Williams and the Hokies look to continue to improve on last seasons success and try and work their way into a true competitor in the stacked ACC.