Here’s why Clemson basketball will or won’t make the NCAA March Madness Tournament in 2024
Despite falling short of an NCAA Tournament bid last season, Clemson basketball has gone through some offseason improvements that should help the Tigers return to March Madness in 2024 for its ‘ first time since 2021.
Clemson missed out on an NCAA Tournament spot even after a better-than-expected season that resulted in a 23-11 record, including a program-record 14 ACC wins, and a third-place league finish. Clemson finished ahead of Duke and North Carolina for the first time since 1990.
But the Tigers were held back by a weak non-conference record and a low NET rating of 67 — liabilities that coach Brad Brownell hopes he has addressed this season.
“We were very close this year,” Brownell said. “I think we’ll have good expectations for ourselves (in 2023-24).
But not everything will work in the Tigers’ favor next season. Here are the reasons why — and why it won’t — Clemson will make a March Madness appearance in 2024:
Why Clemson basketball will make NCAA March Madness in 2024
PJ Hall returns for the fourth year
PJ Hall withdrew his name from the NBA draft on May 25 to return for one final season at Clemson.
“He was probably the best recruit we had at Clemson,” Brownell said.
Hall, who shared Clemson’s scoring lead with a 15.3 average, attended the NBA’s G League Elite Camp in mid-May and performed well enough to earn an invite to the NBA Draft Combine. Both were held in Chicago.
“I thought it was a good process for PJ,” Brownell said. “The experience of playing out there in those conditions is invaluable. I think he will grow from it.
“I also know that PJ loves Clemson and wants to leave a legacy there. I knew if he didn’t feel really strong that maybe a first round pick or something like that he would want to come back.”
Hall was a third-team All-ACC selection last season after averaging 5.6 rebounds and shooting 53.5% from the floor, 39.8% from 3-point range and 78.6% from the free throw line.
Clemson’s 2023-24 basketball schedule has stronger non-conference opponents
In an effort to shake up its non-conference schedule and improve its postseason resume, Clemson is currently adding Memphis and Boise State to the schedule. The Tigers never played either team, and both made the NCAA Tournament – Memphis as the No. 8 seed, Boise State as the 10 seed.
Memphis went 26-9 en route to a second-place finish behind Houston in the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers NET rate was 22.
The planned home-and-home series begins with Clemson playing at FedEx Forum on Dec. 16 and Memphis playing at Littlejohn Coliseum during the 2024-25 season.
Boise State went 23-10 and tied for second in the Mountain West Conference behind San Diego State. The Broncos had a NET rating of 34.
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The addition of the Clemson transfer will make a difference
Brownell has been successful mining the transfer port and his latest additions should help the Tigers get over the hump.
Look for sharpshooter Joseph Girard, a transfer from Syracuse, and Jake Heidbreder, who led Air Force in scoring last season, to lead the way. Girard is the leading returning scorer in the ACC with an average of 17.8 points while Heidbreder averaged 15.1 points and made 75 3-pointers.
Brownell also added Jack Clark, a versatile transfer from NC State who averaged 9.0 points and 6.9 rebounds, and Bas Leyte, a 6-10 forward who played at UNC Greensboro last season.
Why Clemson basketball won’t make the NCAA March Madness in 2024
Clemson will struggle to recover from the loss of Hunter Tyson
Hunter Tyson’s versatility will be a challenge in his place. The 6-foot-8 forward came into his own in his final season of eligibility and emerged as the team’s voice.
He was a first-team All-ACC selection and finished fourth in ACC Player of the Year voting after averaging 15.3 points and 9.6 rebounds. Tyson led the ACC in defensive rebounding and was named the recipient of the 2023 Skip Prosser Award, which is given to the top scholar-athlete in ACC men’s basketball.
Now he hopes to get a chance in the NBA.
“They like his work ethic, they like his shooting, they like his size,” Brownell said.
Clemson’s ACC schedule in 2023-24 will get much tougher
Last season Clemson benefited from winning most of its home and away games against the worst teams in the league – Louisville, who finished last, as well as Georgia Tech (13 ).th), Florida State (12th), Virginia Tech (11th) and Wake Forest (9th). NC State only (6th) finished in the top half of the ACC standings.
In 2023-24, the Tigers still get Florida State and Georgia Tech, both of which are expected to improve, but their four home-and-away opponents look to be significantly more challenging. , including defending regular-season champion Miami, Pitt. (5th), North Carolina (7th) and Syracuse (8th). And Clemson’s four away games in the ACC include trips to tough spots: Duke, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
Scott Keepfer covers Clemson athletics for The Greenville News and the USA TODAY Network. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ScottKeepfer
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Why Clemson basketball may or may not make 2024 NCAA March Madness