We've arrived at the time of year where we all become quite familiar with the made-up word, bracketology, and while we're at it - those who make their living off from it, bracketologists.
The terms RPI and résumé are drilled into the ground as well, but they come down to a point – is this team worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid? Here is Clemson’s body of work that the selection committee has to look over:
Record: 17-7 (6-4 ACC)
Top 50 RPI wins: Boston College, Florida State.
Top 100 RPI wins: BC, FSU, Miami, at College of Charleston, Seton Hall (neutral site), NC State.
Strength of Schedule: 99.
Bad losses (100+ RPI): South Carolina, Virginia (both on the road).
Top 50 RPI teams left on schedule: UNC on Saturday, at Duke on March 2nd.
At this point, the bracketologists are saying that’s not quite enough.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has five ACC teams in his latest projections – Duke (2 seed), UNC (5 seed), FSU (8 seed), Virginia Tech (10 seed) and Boston College (11 seed). Clemson appeared in the “Next Four Out” among the eight teams closest to making his field of 68.
Five was a popular number for ACC teams in the NCAA Tourney among the different outlets as Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports picked it too earlier in the week – Duke (2 seed in both), UNC (4 seed at CBS, 6 seed at SI), FSU (11 seed at CBS, 8 seed at SI), BC (11 seed on both) and Virginia Tech (11 seed at both).
Fox Sports isn't impressed with the ACC at all with only the triumvirate of Duke (2 seed), UNC (4 seed) and FSU (11 seed) in – Boston College on their last four teams left out.
In the blogs, SB Nation’s Blogging Bracket has the lucky No. 5 from the ACC with the same teams as the rest. Clemson is on the list of teams considered, but out of the first and next four out.
Looking at Clemson compared to the ACC’s bubble teams in Boston College and Virginia Tech…
Record: 15-9 (5-5 ACC)
Top 50 RPI wins: Texas A&M (neutral site).
Top 100 RPI wins: Texas A&M (neutral site), California (neutral site), Virginia Tech, at Maryland, Bucknell, NC State.
Strength of Schedule: 22.
Bad losses (100+ RPI): Yale.
Top 50 RPI teams left on schedule: at UNC on February 19th.
Record: 15-7 (5-4 ACC)
Top 50 RPI wins: Oklahoma State (neutral site), Florida State.
Top 100 RPI wins: Oklahoma State, Florida State, at Maryland, Miami, Penn State, at NC State.
Strength of Schedule: 85.
Bad losses (100+ RPI): at Georgia Tech, Virginia.
Top 50 RPI teams left on schedule: Duke on February 26th, BC on March 1st.
The Tigers have some work to do, but they do have the edge head-to-head on Boston College and a higher RPI (slightly) than Virginia Tech.
The big game is Saturday for Clemson with only one ranked team after UNC on the schedule in Duke (and I wouldn’t be counting on that one on Senior Night for Blue Devils’ Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler). Stay perfect at home in ACC play by taking down the Tar Heels and Clemson will start to find themselves in those bracket projections – steal a road win next week at either NC State or Miami and they will move up even more.
On the flip-side, Clemson loses to North Carolina and the Tigers will need to run the table outside of Duke most likely. That would put them at 10-6 in the ACC – a record that left Virginia Tech out of the NCAA Tournament last year with a résumé lacking quality wins.
What helps Clemson is their season finale is with Virginia Tech at home and there’s always quality wins to be had in the ACC Tournament, which hasn’t been kind to them historically (1-4 in ACC Tournament openers in the last five years).
All in all, Clemson's Brownell has the Tigers in a good spot for a first year coach and the issues that come with that. Win Saturday and the bracketology chatter will be high come next week.