OMAHA, NE - MARCH 16: D.J. Byrd #21 of the Purdue Boilermakers drives for a shot attempt against Matthew Dellavedova #4 of the St. Mary's Gaels during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 16, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
After a 10-8 conference season in which three of our best players graduated I did not expect a favorable matchup in this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Having played at home in 2008 (Duke), 2009 (Wake Forest) and 2011 (Miami), I expected that our Boilermakers would be headed on the road in this event, likely to the fifth or sixth place ACC team. We've helped the Big Ten win this event with three straight wins over Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Miami, and our overtime win at Virginia tech was the difference-makers two seasons ago.
Well, we have our second rematch in ACC/Big Ten Challenge history as we're headed to Clemson on Wednesday, November 28th. This is the second time we have traveled to Clemson to face the Tigers in this event. In 2007 Chris Kramer famously knocked himself out on the basket support as the Baby Boilers lost a heartbreaker 61-58 to a pretty good Clemson team. It really was a sign of things to come. That was the first loss of the JJ/E"Twaun/Robbie era, and we led at halftime by three over the No. 18 team in the country. The Traitor was our leading scorer with 13 points in that game.
Shakin' the Southland is your SBNation home for Clemson, and the Tigers have been down of late, surprising me that we didn't get a better game. They were 16-15, 8-8 last season with a win over Virginia as their best victory. That's not saying a lot. They weren't even invited to a postseason tournament last year.
This team lost to a South Carolina team that needed improvement just to be awful. They also lost to Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston, which is like us losing to IPFW and Evansville. Their opponent last year in the challenge was Iowa, whom they beat in Iowa City by 16. Last year did break a string of four straight NCAA appearances, however.
This was a bad scoring team and a worse rebounding team. They shot only 43% from the field, and they lost their top two scorers in Andre Young and Tanner Smith. Milton Jennings is the only player with size that they have returning, so to me, it is clear what we must do.
Yes, we will have a young team, but this will almost certainly be its first true road game. We're going to be the better team and we'll have more size in the post with A.J. Hammons and Co. We need to win this game, and by all accounts should win it to put another positive mark in the Big Ten's ledger.