Clemson Tigers Will Rise in the Midwest

J LContributor IMarch 18, 2008

The Clemson Tigers (24-9 overall and 10-6 ACC) are my Cinderella team of '08. 

Three times the Tigers have nearly upset No. 1 UNC, including a heartbreaking last second three by Wayne Ellington to beat the Tigers on Jan. 6 and a double overtime heart stopper on Feb. 10. Key wins for Clemson include, at Maryland late in the season, surging Virginia Tech and seventh ranked Duke in the ACC semis.

Expect Clemson to run to an early lead against Villanova in their first round NCAA tournament game, just like they have against UNC and never look back. Villanova (20-12 overall and 9-9 Big East) doesn't have the manpower to make a comeback reminiscent of UNC's wins over Clemson. Clemson also has inside depth whereas Villanova lacks the inside presence to compete with Clemson. 

In the second round of the NCAA's Clemson should face Vanderbilt (26-7 overall 10-6 SEC). While Vandy knocked off No. 1 Tennessee at home, they struggled playing on the road losing six of eight SEC road games and will continue struggling playing away from Memorial Gymnasium. Playing at a neutral site Vandy lost to Arkansas, a team with a solid interior presence. 

I expect Clemson to pull out a close win over Vandy with their inside presence of Trevor Booker and outside shooting of role player Terrance Oglesby.