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Clemson

vs.

Louisville

College Basketball Pick

1/19/17

This isn't the type of start in conference play that Clemson envisioned and it doesn't get easier with this game, going against yet another ranked team, this time on the road at Louisville. The Cardinals had a couple losses early in the ACC, but got the win they were looking for over the weekend, knocking off Duke 78-69.

The same can't be said for Clemson. Since winning its first ACC game at Wake Forest, the Tigers have had a rough schedule and lost four straight, including two close ones at home against North Carolina and Virginia. With another loss expected here, the Tigers will have to make up some ground in the next month or so to be considered a tournament team.

Clemson won this meeting at home last season 66-62, but doing that on the road is another story. It was a low-scoring game because neither team was all that efficient outside of the Tigers shooting a ridiculous 32-of-44 from the free-throw line. Of course, another reason Louisville lost that game is because they went just 3-of-23 from long range. This could be another close game, but it's going to require a better overall effort from Clemson.

The first thing the Tigers can't do is turn it over and while they are one of the best in the ACC at not doing that, a meeting with Louisville could change that. Louisville's pressure, especially at home, is far from easy to prepare for. Another problem for Clemson is that outside of Jaron Blossongame, no one has been close to consistent. Blossomgame has not been shooting that well from deep, but he's still forcing the issue and has reached 20 points in the last four games. However, no one else has been consistent, second-leading scorer Avry Holmes included as he had just three points in the Notre Dame loss.

Clemson is a fairly deep team with eight guys averaging at least 6.6 points per game, but that doesn't really matter when none of those points come at the same time. The Tigers don't have a lot of size either, but Sidy Djitte will be tasked with keeping Anas Mahmoud in check. Both guys have had sparks, but both are averaging small numbers. Mahmoud is coming off a 17-point, 11-board performance against Duke, though. And coming from a team that struggles offensively almost every game, if Mahmoud can have continued success while in the starting lineup, that'll be a real boost for the Cardinals.

Outside of Mahmoud, Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider have been the two guys that Rick Pitino has counted on and both have done enough. While neither are great shooters (both 37% from field), both have found ways to score in conference play, averaging more than their season averages. And that's where the questions come in for Clemson. The Louisville offense isn't good, but still has playmakers that come through when it matters. Another problem is that the Clemson defense is one of the worst in the league allowing a high effective field goal percentage and giving up too many offensive boards. Those are not key components to winning games on the road.

With Blossomgame the only Clemson player that can score at a consistent rate, this doesn't look like a game that the Tigers will get an upset in, furthering their spot at the bottom of the standings.

Our Pick - Louisville by 15

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