The Clemson Tigers basketball program began play in 1911 and appeared in their first NCAA Tournament in 1980. The Tigers had their most successful run in March that first year with an appearance in the Elite Eight, but fell to UCLA 85-74. Clemson has been inconsistent over the years in terms of making the tournament with the highlight coming in a stretch from 2008-2011 when they made four consecutive big dances. Overall, the Tigers have made over 10 tournaments, winning more than 8 times, but still searching for their first Final Four appearance.
Head Coach Oliver Purnell helped lead the Tigers to three of the four consecutive trips to the tournament in the late 2000s and helped bring the basketball program back to legitimacy. After missing out on the tournament for nearly a decade, Purnell was the coach to bring Clemson back. The Tigers have never had the tournament streak before Purnell and have yet to reach the same level of consistency since Purnell left the program.
The Tigers advanced to the Elite Eight in their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1980 behind head coach Bill Foster. Clemson fell to the UCLA Bruins 85-74 despite 18 points from Billy Williams. The Bruins ended up losing in the national title game, but the deep run by the Tigers signaled their presence for the first time in the college basketball world.
Clemson Tigers Recent NCAA Tourament History
In 2011, the last of the four consecutive tournament appearances by Clemson, first year head coach Brad Brownell led the Tigers to 21 victories to earn a 12 seed in March Madness. Clemson defeated UAB 70-52 in their first game before falling to the number five seed West Virginia 84-76. Andre Young scored 22 points but it was not enough to defeat the Mountaineers.