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ACC Tourney Preview: Tigers face #1 UVA in the Semifinals

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Opportunity Knocks!

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Clemson vs Boston College Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

When: Friday, 7pm

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

TV: ESPN/ACCN

The Tigers held off the pesky Boston College Eagles to get into the rarefied air (for this program) of the ACC Tournament Semifinals. Larry Williams of Tigerillustrated tweeted an incredible statistic showing Brad Brownell’s fourth win in the ACC tournament puts him at #1 all time for Clemson basketball coaches. That just shows you have futile the efforts of the program have been over the years in this tournament!

However, a lot of that pain can be forgotten if the Tigers can take down the undisputed #1 team in the nation, the UVA Cavaliers. UVA handed the Tigers their only truly lopsided defeat of the season in their only meeting in Charlottesville. UVA can give the illusion of vulnerability due to their style of play and relative lack of future lottery pick talent, but make no mistake, they are legit and have only lost twice for a reason. It is going to take the best effort of the season for Clemson to win this game, but the Tigers do have the guard firepower to do it if all three are on their games.

The style of this game is going to be much different than yesterday’s shootout with the Eagles. Boston College has guards who can really score, but they also take shots you won’t see UVA guys take unless it is at the end of the shot clock. The possessions are more limited and it puts a premium on each one. The Tigers have been prone to turnovers at times this season and to some shooting droughts here and there, but any of these lasting more than a couple of possessions will likely spell doom in this game.

Marcquise Reed had a down game by his standards against BC, and the Tigers are going to need their star guard to be at his best tonight. He is the guy who can shoot even under duress when he is on, and he is the best at the mid-range game that UVA generally forces teams to use. Clemson played pretty strong defense the first time out, but the ridiculous 10 minute scoring drought had them guarding in transition all night it seemed. No team is going to play its best defense in that scenario. The first team to 60, maybe even 55, is going to win this game.

Clemson should enter this game loose and know it has nothing much to lose. This is a great opportunity to notch one of the best wins in the history of the program considering the environment and the opponent. A win tonight would give the team the firm knowledge that it can really beat anybody on a given night in the NCAA tournament. Clemson projects as a five seed currently by most experts, but a win tonight would easily vault the Tigers to the four line. Having UNC and Duke beat each other up in the other semifinal should be a bonus for the winner of this one.

KenPom predictably likes UVA to win 58-52. Hopefully the Tigers will flip that script!