ACC Tourney: Tigers prepare for Jackets, Eagles in Greensboro

Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory directs his team during an NCAA college basketball practice for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Georgia Tech plays Boston College in a first round game on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Photo by Chuck Burton

Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory directs his team during an NCAA college basketball practice for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Georgia Tech plays Boston College in a first round game on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Just about 24 hours to tipoff, six-seed Clemson (19-11, 10-8 ACC) will know its Thursday opponent in the ACC Tournament.

The choices? 11-seed Georgia Tech (15-16, 6-12) or 14-seed Boston College (8-23, 4-14), who they swept 3-0 in the regular season.

The Tigers played BC to open the ACC slate, a 62-60 road win, and took the home-and-home with the Yellow Jackets by four (at home) then eight (road).

Tigers preparing for Jackets, Eagles

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Despite the success, Clemson – still smarting from a tough home loss to Pitt – is on edge as they begin their tournament prep with a practice session tonight in Greensboro Coliseum.

“It’s very hard to beat a team three times in one year,” Clemson redshirt freshman forward Jaron Blossomgame said, of a series where the Tigers look for a 10th-straight win overall. “We played Boston College awhile ago. They beat Syracuse this year so you can’t really sleep on any team in the ACC. We just have to come out ready to play.”

The Jackets and Eagles play the 7 p.m. nightcap Wednesday in the first five-day ACC Tournament.

“It’s good you know you can beat them,” Tigers coach Brad Brownell. “Really when we start the game at zero-zero and it’s a neutral court – it’s a new lease on life honestly.

“When you’re team that hasn’t done as well you’re looking for a new lease on life. Something new to get you going. Georgia Tech is playing well right now. They just went to Syracuse and won…They’re getting healthy and they’ll be feeling good about themselves.

“Sometimes there’s an advantage to playing the night before and you win. Guys feel good about themselves…It’s tournament basketball. You just have to get your guys ready to play.”

After four wins in their first 16 ACC games, Georgia Tech closed the regular season with a 67-62 victory at the Carrier Dome over No. 7 Syracuse and then beat conference cellar-dweller Virginia Tech by 11 on senior day.

As Blossomgame noted, BC knocked off the ‘Cuse on the road as well, but they went on to lose four of their last five.

Clemson has won its opener in each of its last two conference tournaments with a bye, in 2008 and 2011 – both over Boston College.

“It’s a little awkward to be honest with you,” said Brownell. “We’ll practice and work on a few things that are Georgia Tech and a few things that are Boston College. You’re kind of programmed most of the year to have two days to really lock in on somebody. Feel like you have a good preparation. In basketball it’s different – we played in the Charleston Classic and didn’t know (the second round opponent until the day before).

“You’re never quite as prepared as you want to be for those kind of scenarios. We haven’t played Boston College since one of the first games of the year. It’s a little bit different. Their style is different than just about anybody in our league. It’s not quite as easy for them.

“Georgia Tech is similar to us in some ways so there are some things you see more frequently. There’s no secret.”

As a program, the Tigers have strung together consecutive wins in the ACC Tourney just twice (2008 and 1962). In openers, they are 15-44.

That said, KenPom gives Clemson a 70.7 percent chance of making it to quarterfinal Friday, with the sixth-best chance to make it to Saturday's semis (16.7).

Thursday's game is scheduled to tip well after 9 p.m., televised on ESPN and regionally on ACC Network.

Follow Brandon Rink on Twitter @brink_aim and OrangeandWhite.com @orangeandwhite live from Greensboro this week.

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