When you think about it, State drew the perfect team to play in its opening round game: Clemson, a team plagued with such poor postseason performance in recent memory, the Tigers were almost guaranteed to come out tight. You got the sense that if the Pack could hang with the more athletic Tigers beyond the opening stanzas of the game, either leading or within a bucket, Clemson would start thinking, "Oh no...not again."
As it was, that's exactly how it played out. The Pack kept scrapping and fighting, relentlessly working the defensive boards, never letting the Tigers get back into the game. And with each passing moment, the Pack got looser and the Tigers got tighter. Tracy Smith's impressive offensive scoring in the post rattled Travis Booker.
Result: A tough, two-point win in the opening round of the ACC Tournament for the Pack and yet another crushing postseason loss for the Tigers who, for all their successes in November and December, have never found a formula that works in March.
Up next: A winnable game against the Seminoles, a team the Pack beat in Tallahassee in their one meeting this year.
It took a flukey shooting performance to get the win on the road during the regular season, but I think State will have an advantage playing in Greensboro. And the Seminoles will have to shut down Tracy...a task that--given the concerted effort State's coaches instilled in the team to feed him the ball as much as possible, and the demeanor Smith showed in the Clemson game--should be much easier said than done.