Coach Rick Barnes
Team scoring 72.2 (FG%: 47.2) (3-pointers: 158-465, 34.0%)
Opponents' scoring 65.0 (FG%: 43.0)
Rebound margin +1.5
Team FT% 61.4
Whom not to foul Terrell McIntyre (77%)
Whom to foul Tom Wideman (44%), Tony Christie (46%)
Quality wins Maryland 78-65, S. Carolina 62-57, Wake Forest 71-46
Player to Watch
McIntyre, a junior guard, may be just 5'9", but he left a large void when he went out with a badly bruised left foot in mid-December. He missed three games and subsequently played in 10 games without practicing. The Tigers were 4-6 during that stretch but closed out the regular season with a 5-2 run after McIntyre resumed practicing.
Clemson likes to shove opponents around: Witness its ACC-record 41 fouls against North Carolina on Jan. 28. What the Tigers can't do is shoot from outside. Temple transfer Johnny Miller was supposed to help, but he made 28.1% from three-point range, and top-scoring forward Greg Buckner (16.4) gets his hoops mostly on slashing drives. It's not surprising that Clemson had more trouble against zone teams like Virginia (a 78-74 Tigers loss) than against man-to-man clubs like Duke, which beat the Tigers three times by a total of seven points.
With Clemson's guard play on an uptick as the tournament gets underway, the regional finals are possible.
11 Western Michigan
Coach Bob Donewald
Team scoring 79.5 (FG%: 47.4) (3-pointers: 188-462, 40.7%)
Opponents' scoring 69.9 (FG%: 43.7)
Team FT% 75.0
Whom not to foul Jason Kimbrough (83%), S. Washington (81%)
Whom to foul Brad Van Timmeren (52%), Shaun Jackson (59%)
Quality wins At Michigan 68-63, at Eastern Michigan 102-82
Player to Watch
Senior Saddi Washington, who worked for Kellogg's last summer, dispatched Michigan (by scoring 33 points) and UNC-Charlotte (32) with the cool of a cereal killer. Washington endured blowouts of each of his knees during his Broncos career to become one of the best scoring (21.7) guards in the country. He drew so much defensive attention that backcourtmates Rashod Johnson (18.8) and Kimbrough (157 assists, 58 turnovers) had career seasons too.
Western Michigan lives as do most three-guard schemes—by the three. Four players shoot 41% or better from behind the arc, but the Broncos lost in the MAC quarterfinal to Miami (Ohio) because they made only 1-of-19 threes. Though 6'7" swingman Jackson is effective on the boards (7.7 overall, 3.0 offensive), the last thing the Broncos need is a big, physical first-round opponent.
As it happens, one of the biggest, most physical teams in the draw, Clemson, awaits. Uh-oh.