Virginia Tech must come ready to play as they a host a Clemson team that is fighting for their tournament lives.
They say there is nothing more dangerous than a desperate team. Well, that is exactly what the Virginia Tech Hokies (18-8, 7-7 ACC) face when they take on the visiting Clemson Tigers (14-12, 4-10 ACC).
Joe Lunardi of ESPN has the Tigers in his “First Four Out” of the tournament as of today, so Clemson faithful still have hope that their team could be in the big dance. However, there is work to be done.
Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has dropped from a 9-seed to a 10-seed in Lunardi’s projections after an inspiring loss at Louisville. The Hokies seem to be safely in the tournament field, but any slip ups could put that status in jeopardy.
Clemson comes in as the team with nothing to lose tonight. If they fall tonight, they are for intents and purposes out of tournament contention. If they win, their bubble stays intact and their dreams of the big dance live on. Expect the Tigers to leave it all on the court.
In their last meeting, the Hokies got their first of only two ACC road victories, winning by just a point. Virginia Tech withstood a barrage of 3-pointers, as Clemson shot 48% from downtown. The Hokies edged out the win, however, using a 16 of 17 performance from the free throw line.
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It will be tough for Clemson to duplicate that shooting display again, however, as they have shot just 35% from beyond the arc for the season. The issue for Virginia Tech tonight will be slowing down the Tigers’ top player, Jaron Blossomgame. He went for 20 points against the Hokies in the first meeting, and will pose a problem for the short rotation of players that will have to guard him.
For the Hokies to win tonight, they must win the battle on the boards. Though the Hokies have won two out of three games, the rebounding woes have not gone away. Players like Zach LeDay, Ty Outlaw, and Khadim Sy must continue to step up in the absence of top rebounder, Chris Clarke. Luckily, Clemson is not much better on the glass. The team that steps up and gets rebounds will likely be taking home the win.
The Hokies and Tigers will tip-off from Cassell Coliseum at 7pm EST. The game can be seen on ESPNU.
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