Clemson Kansas

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Sweet 16



Kansas may be the 1-seed in this situation, but Clemson had arguably one of the best wins of the Tournament last round. Because of that, a lot of people will be on the Tigers for another upset. The Jayhawks were early -4.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Omaha.

Clemson ran Auburn, the SEC regular season champ, off the floor in the second round, at one time leading 70-29. It was almost a perfect Game for the Tigers and something they’ll have to do again if they want to advance. But it won’t be as easy. The loss of Donte Grantham will have to catch up with them at some point.

As for Kansas, it hasn’t been as impressive, but has won both its Games so that’s all that matters. It took awhile to escape from Penn, while Seton Hall made things close late in the second round. This Game will be a good test for the Clemson defense, which ranks seventh in the country in defensive efficiency. They do everything well except force turnovers and limit easy looks from three. That second stat could be most troublesome because the Jayhawks have one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country with Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman all shooting better than 40 percent from deep.

On the other end, KU’s biggest weakness is grabbing defensive boards and conveniently that’s not something Clemson does well. Looking at those numbers from the surface in addition to Omaha being three hOurs from the KU campus, this Game points to the Jayhawks.

In matchups, Udoka Azubuike should be a little healthier after playing 22 minutes against Seton Hall. He’s going to be a problem for Clemson’s Elijah Thomas, which changes everything for the Tigers. Thomas did whatever he wanted against Auburn en route to 18 points and 11 boards and he won’t be able to dominate like that again. Azubuike may not be an elite big man, but he’s solid and is better than anyone Auburn had.

Clemson’s hope and maybe only chance is that it continues to hit shots from deep. That mainly falls on Gabe DeVoe, who has eight made threes in the first two Games and is the only active Clemson player close to 40 percent from deep. DeVoe will likely get matched up with LAgerald Vick, who has a couple inches and has been used as more of a defensive specialist this season. The only other guys that can contribute for Clemson are guards Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed. Both have had great Tournaments, but this will be a step up in competition and they’ll both have more defensive work against Graham and Newman.

Graham has been one of the best players in the country this season, whether that’s scoring or setting up teammates, he does it all. Still, Clemson may have to worry about Newman just as much as he has hit another level with 20 points in Four of the last five Games. If he continues to fill it up from deep, the Tigers will have trouble winning this Game. It also doesn’t help that the Tigers don’t have anyone to deal with Mykhailiuk because that’s what Grantham’s position was. Instead, freshman Aamir Simms will see a lot of him.

These teams match up fairly well, but Kansas gets the edge in the backcOurt and Mykhailiuk has a big advantage at the Four spot. That should lead to another win for the top seed in the Midwest region.

Our Pick – Clemson +5

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