Dane Miller’s Arizona vs. Clemson Sweet 16 Preview

The Wildcats face the Tigers in Los Angeles with a chance to advance to the Elite Eight

Posted on March 28, 2024

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

One game at a time.

That’s the mindset Arizona has used through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Now the Wildcats face Clemson in Los Angeles with a chance to advance to the Elite Eight on the line.

The ACC is 8-1 this Tournament and the Tigers might give Arizona a game.

I preview the matchup here and my pick appears at the bottom.

6-seed Clemson vs. 2-seed ArizonaArizona football Pac-12

Thursday, March 28
4:09 pm PT, CBS
Los Angeles, CA

Arizona has never advanced to the Elite Eight under Tommy Lloyd.

The last time the Wildcats advanced that deep in the Tournament was in 2015, after Sean Miller had reached the Elite Eight previously in 2014 and 2011 as well.

The Cats enter the Sweet 16 as the last Pac-12 team standing and carrying the Conference’s banner in the final year of the league.

Lloyd starts four seniors. Caleb Love, Keshad Johnson, Oumar Ballo, and Pelle Larsson lead the team and have the experience necessary to advance in March.

But Arizona’s success tends to come and go by the play of the fifth starter on the roster: Kylan Boswell. The sophomore is critical to UA advancing to the Elite Eight.

He had a career-high 20 points in the First-Round game and then scored just two points on 0-of-3 shooting in the Round of 32 matchup.

Whichever version of Boswell shows up in the Sweet 16 could tip the scales either way.

Even so, Arizona needs Caleb Love to be a difference-maker.

Kylan Boswell vs Dayton | Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune

When his shot hasn’t been falling, the senior shooting guard has affected the game in other ways.

In the postgame press conference after the Dayton win he said, “Whatever I can do to get the team to win, whether that’s scoring, rebounding, playmaking, whatever I gotta do, defense, that’s what Imma try to do.”

In a perfect world, Love hits his opening shot and stays hot all game. But he’s been inconsistent over the last handful and might need to find alternative ways to generate production.

Steals, rebounds, and assists are key. If he’s playing well on defense and moving the ball on offense, the shot makes will follow.

Jaden Bradley also might need to step up.

The sophomore point guard stepped in for a majority of the playing time in the Second Round game and didn’t disappoint.

Bradley scored 12 points with three steals, three blocks, two assists, and zero turnovers.

If that’s the backup point guard production Arizona gets again, the Cats will be hard to beat.

But Clemson is a strong team.

PJ Hall vs Baylor | Clemson Wire/USA TODAY Sports

They don’t turn the ball over (44th nationally in TOs per game), shoot a high percentage from the field (60th nationally in field goal percentage), and have a strong defense (42nd nationally in field goal percentage defense).

They also run a slow pace.

KenPom rates the Tigers’ tempo at 257th out of the 362 teams in his metric.

The ACC program is led by center PJ Hall. The 6-foot-10, 238-pound big leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.5 ppg with 6.4 rpg.

Other than Hall, the team has two additional primary shooters with each averaging over 10.0 shots per game.

Guard Chase Hunter, a 6-foot-4 senior, is averaging 20.5 ppg in the Tournament. Joe Girard is the other option. The former Syracuse transfer puts up 15.3 ppg but has been cold in the Big Dance, shooting 6-for-21 from the field.

The key to an Arizona victory is its defense.

Hunter is not a strong three-point shooter and could struggle, while Girard is cold and is potentially vulnerable to physical play.

This is the best defensive team Lloyd has had since taking over in Tucson. If they play with consistent energy and effort on that side of the court, UA should survive and advance.

Dane Miller’s Game Pick

Pac-12 in 2024 NCAA Tournament


No. 6 Clemson vs. No. 2 Arizona
Mar 28, 4:09 PM PT
Arizona football Pac-12Arizona
Record Picking Arizona 26-9 (74%)
 Overall Record 182-86-0 (68%)

—More from Dane Miller—