CLEMSON — It was an interesting conundrum for the Clemson basketball team this week.
Coach Brad Brownell's 19th-ranked Tigers held multiple practices preparing for their first ACC Tournament matchup Thursday, but they didn't know who they were preparing to play.
They worked on things specifically related to N.C. State and did the same for Boston College, knowing they would see the winner of the Wednesday afternoon Wolfpack-Eagles matchup.
Now, Clemson has an answer. The Tigers will take on Boston College at 2 p.m. Thursday after the Eagles' 91-87 victory.
But for Brownell and Co., the opponent doesn't matter. Clemson is already in the NCAA Tournament, so this week's ACC event is less about how deep the Tigers can go and more about how well they play ahead of the big dance. There is a so much momentum that can carry over between the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
This time of year, timing is everything. Perhaps Clemson could improve its NCAA Tournament seeding with a strong showing, but more than anything, this week will allow Brownell to see how his Tigers perform now that college basketball's craziest, most exciting month has arrived.
"Yeah, can you move up a line or two? Yeah. Does it really matter that much? I don't know if it does," Brownell said, referring to NCAA seedings. "I just want our team playing well at the right time. I think that's more important than any of the other stuff — that your team's in a good position and you're playing well."
What does Brownell want to see from his squad in the ACC Tournament? The Tigers need to take better care of the ball and execute on offense.
Clemson averages 12.2 turnovers per game and are in the middle of the conference standings when it comes to both turnover margin and assist to turnover ratio. Once NCAA Tournament time comes, Clemson's aggravating defense will bother an opponent not familiar with the Tigers, but ball security on offense will still have to be at a premium.
Brownell is also interested in seeing how the Tigers continue to fare without senior forward Donte Grantham, knowing that Clemson was a different team with its star when the Tigers played both N.C. State and Boston College earlier in the regular season.
If Clemson wins Thursday, the Tigers would almost certainly match up with top-seeded Virginia on Friday. The Cavaliers have only lost one conference game all season and are a favorite to win the tournament.
But even then, even with a chance to potentially knock off the nation's best team, the message is still about Clemson. At this point, team identities are formed and the Tigers will run with theirs in Brooklyn.
"There is nothing you're going to drastically change in the last week," Brownell said. "We don't have magic practices, but we do have to try to shore some things up and just make sure our guys understand that there are some things we've got to continue to work on and get better (with).
"(We have) really just worked on our team. We’re still working mostly on our team."
And that will not change this week.