New Mexico State vs. Clem­son

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS -

WHY IT WILL HAP­PEN: Clem­son is great at foot­ball, so we will put this in terms a foot­ball fan would un­der­stand: Clem­son ain’t played no­body! (Or, more pre­cisely, it hasn’t beaten any of the best teams.) The Tigers played an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence sched­ule. The prob­lem is, they went 4-8 against ACC teams that made the NCAA Tour­na­ment. New Mexico State, mean­while, is a solid mid-ma­jor that beat New Mexico twice as well as Mi­ami and David­son be­fore win­ning the West­ern Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship. And the San Diego lo­ca­tion makes this a far eas­ier trip for the Ag­gies.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT: The ad­vanced stats at KenPom.com say Clem­son had the eighth-best de­fense, pe­riod, in Divi­sion I.

X FACTOR: New Mexico State is one of the coun­try’s best of­fen­sive re­bound­ing teams. It will need to out­mus­cle the taller Tigers to steal all the ex­tra chances it can.

WHY IT WILL HAP­PEN: Af­ter a 31year NCAA Tour­na­ment drought, Mar­shall beat for­mer Cin­derella Mid­dle Ten­nessee State to close the reg­u­lar sea­son, then held off a late come­back by West­ern Ken­tucky in the Con­fer­ence USA ti­tle game. The Herd say they play “Hill­billy ball,” which means they spread the floor, run and take as many 3-point­ers as pos­si­ble. Sound fa­mil­iar, NBA fans? Did we men­tion that the coach, Dan D’An­toni, is the brother of the Hous­ton Rock­ets’ coach, Mike? Also, Wi­chita State’s de­fense is not what it used to be.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT: If there is any team fa­mil­iar with lower seeds play­ing spoiler in the NCAA Tour­na­ment, it’s the Shock­ers. They won’t be over­look­ing any­body.

X FACTOR: Ju­nior guard Jon El­more does it all for Mar­shall and was the only player in the na­tion av­er­ag­ing more than 22 points, six re­bounds and six as­sists per game. >> Sto­ried UCLA pro­gram ex­pe­ri­ences its first “First Four” ap­pear­ance.

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