Busting Brackets

Clemson Basketball: 3 keys for Sweet Sixteen NCAA Tournament game against Arizona

Clemson v Baylor
Clemson v Baylor / Justin Ford/GettyImages
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Keep PJ Hall out of foul trouble

PJ Hall often finds himself in foul trouble, the consequence of being a big man who plays basketball. Clemson's best player is going to have to do his best to avoid being sidelined by foul trouble.

Hall's importance to the Tigers is evident. After a Third Team All-ACC performance in 2022-23, the long-time member of the program elevated to the First Team in 2023-24. He's averaging 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Fouls have always been an issue for Hall, though. This year, he's averaging 3.1 personal fouls per game, a career-high. He played only 19 minutes in each of the first two NCAA Tournament games, largely due to foul trouble; he fouled out against Baylor.

On the one hand, Clemson can feel encouraged by how it was able to move past its first two games without being able to keep Hall on the court. It demonstrates that the Tigers can win even without their best player available.

But that's not an ideal way to play one of the best teams in the country. Clemson needs all hands on deck when facing Arizona, particularly on the inside, where the Wildcats create a unique challenge.

While Arizona's best players are their guards, their most imposing force may be Oumar Ballo. The 7-foot senior averages 12.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He can also swat shots with aplomb, rejecting four in the team's First Round game against Long Beach State. His mere presence is intimidating.

The Tigers don't necessarily have the size to compete. Ian Schieffelin does a great job working the boards (9.5 per game), but is 6-foot-8. Chauncey Wiggins is 6-foot-10, like Hall, but hasn't made a significant impact in his NCAA Tournament minutes, recording a mere two points and one rebound in 19 minutes against the Bears.

For Clemson to withstand the pressure on the inside, PJ Hall needs to stay out of foul trouble and on the court for more than half of the contest, which would be a first for him this tournament.