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Basketball Preview: Virginia at Clemson

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Boston College Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 12:00pm
Location: Littlejohn Coliseum - Clemson, SC
TV: Raycom (ABC in Greenville)

The #4 Virginia Cavaliers visit Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday, just as the fans wrap up the good times at the Clemson football national championship parade. Continuing the good times from the parade will be tough as Virginia looks as good as ever. They enter the contest at 13-0 with wins over Wisconsin, Maryland, and Florida State.

As usual, their defense is exceptional and ranks 3rd in KenPom’s efficiency metric. What’s scary though, is that their offense ranks 5th in the same metric. They still play a very slow tempo though. In fact, at 60.7 possessions per game, they play the lowest (353rd) tempo in the entire country.

Virginia doesn’t take a ton of threes. They rank just 179th in three-point attempts as a portion of total field goals, but that’s more than Clemson (which ranks 240th). Clemson opponents have shot a lot of three-pointers as the Tigers have struggled to get out and contest. That is scary against a Virginia team that shoots 39.5% from three, 14th best nationally.

The Tigers best hope is for their guards to step up and provide an advantage. Virginia’s Kyle Guy is a three-point shooter averaging over 15 ppg while shooting a ridiculous 47% from three. They’ll need him to have an off-day and Shelton Mitchell to regain his groove. The Tigers’ senior PG is shooting just 28% from three and a shade under 40% from the field overall. If he can get back into rhythm after a tough start to the year and help Clemson score in transition before Virginia’s dominant defense sets up, the Tigers will be much better off.

Prediction:

KenPom: Clemson 58, Virginia 65 (28%)

Winning on the road in the ACC is tough so this will be no gimme for Virginia, but I tend to concur with KenPom here. A slightly better than 1-in-4 chance to win seems fair for a solid team playing at home. They need Mitchell to really run the offense like he did during the NCAA tournament last year if they’re going to have a chance. Then they also need Reed to make shots, Eli Thomas to avoid foul trouble, and someone else to pop up with a big day. It’s possible, but the Tigers couldn’t reach 60 points against Syracuse so I wouldn’t expect much different in this one.

STS: Clemson 51, Virginia 62