Clemson's recent streak of three consecutive losses against Miami, the fourth-ranked North Carolina, and Virginia Tech in ACC play led to the exclusion of the Tigers from the latest AP and USA TODAY Top 25 Coaches polls. This also affected their current ranking in Joe Lunardi's recent Bracketology rankings that were announced on Tuesday.
Having initially been projected as high as an eighth overall seed (No. 2 seed) by the experienced bracket analyst just two weeks ago, Clemson's three defeats caused their descent to a No. 5 seed according to Lunardi's predictions.
In his most recent update, Lunardi predicts that Clemson (12-5 overall, 2-4 in the conference) will face McNeese State, the presumed champion of the Southland Conference, in the tournament as an automatic qualifier.
Other teams projected as No. 5 seeds in Lunardi's forecast include Alabama, Oklahoma, and Dayton. As expected, the highly ranked teams of the ACC, North Carolina and Duke, are projected as some of the top seeds. The Tar Heels are predicted as a No. 1 seed in the South region (Dallas), while Duke is anticipated to be a No. 3 seed in the East region (Boston).
Clemson suffered a 65-55 defeat against North Carolina at Littlejohn Coliseum on January 6. They will soon travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face Duke on January 27. The Tigers will then have a rematch against North Carolina on Tuesday, February 6 in Chapel Hill.
Lunardi's rankings indicate that the SEC and Big 12 conferences are expected to receive the highest number of tournament bids, each with eight. The Big Ten is projected to have seven schools in the field of 68. The ACC and the Mountain West conference are tied with five projected bids each, placing them one position behind the Big East's six projected bids.