Stuckey’s Clemson-Florida State Betting Preview: Desperate Tigers Look For Key Home Win

Stuckey’s Clemson-Florida State Betting Preview: Desperate Tigers Look For Key Home Win article feature image
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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Clemson guard Shelton Mitchell being defended by Florida State guard Terance Mann

  • Desperate for a key win for its tournament resume, will Clemson (-1) end its two-game skid against FSU on Tuesday night?
  • Or will Florida State sweep the season series and extend its current ACC winning streak to eight games?

Clemson has been snakebit this season.

The Tigers are 5-4 in their last nine ACC games, but three of those losses came by a combined four points — two via buzzer beater. With just a few bounces, Clemson would easily have the same 8-4 ACC record as Florida State and sit comfortably in the tourney field. The Tigers are one of the best 10-loss teams you will ever see at this point in the season.

Tuesday night’s matchup will actually feature two teams that I think can cause quite a lot of damage in March. If you’re looking to add a long shot national title future, I think both Florida State and Clemson warrant a look. Each team has experience, size and an elite defense.

Don’t forget both teams made the Sweet 16 last season (FSU the Elite 8) and could easily do so again this year.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup from a betting perspective.

Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers

  • Spread: Clemson -1
  • Over/Under: 133.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU

FSU doesn’t run the prettiest offensive sets, but compensates with extreme length at the rim and dominant offensive rebounding. The Seminoles rank 28th in offensive rebounding percentage and boast a roster that ranks 13th nationally in average height.

Teams that can’t defend at the rim and/or can’t rebound on the defensive end will struggle to contain the not-so-pretty but effective Seminole offense. And if you don’t have height, they will kill you with lobs, which they execute as well as any team in the country in the half court.

Well, luckily for Clemson — it has an elite defense that can protect the rim and attack the glass — in part thanks to a roster that ranks 38th in the country in average height.

Also, just look at some of Clemson’s ACC defensive ranks in conference play:

  • Efficiency: 2nd
  • Effective FG%: 3rd
  • 2 Pt Defense: 2nd
  • Defensive Rebounding %: 1st

That’s pretty impressive considering the ACC has eight teams ranked in the top 25 in overall Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per Kenpom.

Clemson does struggle somewhat on defense to defend the perimeter, but that is not Florida State’s strong suit.

FSU has won seven straight, but not against the greatest competition and the Seminoles do have a date with North Carolina on deck. They have also shown some vulnerability on the road this year in ACC play, losing at Boston College and at Pitt.

Clemson, which has revenge from a loss earlier this season, should come in as the more desperate team.

Over the final few weeks leading up to the tournament, there will be times when desperate teams in “must-win spots” will be overvalued in the betting market. The pressure can actually work against those teams at times.

However, I ultimately trust Clemson’s experience to not press and/or panic in this particular spot. This is a senior-laden roster that ranks 38th in overall experience.

Bet to Watch

The ‘Noles came into that first meeting as the more desperate team, having just lost three consecutive games to drop to 1-4 in conference.

Well, the roles are completely reversed for the rematch. Florida State has won seven straight, while Clemson will look to end a two game skid — and pick up a huge win for its tournament resume.

Just like last season, I think Clemson returns the favor at home after an earlier season road loss in Tallahassee. I also don’t expect FSU to shoot 10 of 22 from deep as it did in that first meeting.

Look for the Tigers to control the pace at home (they prefer to play much slower than FSU) and potentially take advantage of a home whistle against a foul-prone Seminole defense (300th in fouls per defensive play).

It won’t be easy, especially on offense against FSU’s length and athleticism, but I think the Tigers finally get a close one to go their way. This is a good buy low/sell high opportunity and favorable situational spot for a desperate, veteran team that can at least match Florida State’s biggest strengths.

The Pick: Clemson -1

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