Clemson, Virginia clash in decisive ACC matchup 

The Clemson Tigers (14-6, 4-5 ACC) will host the Virginia Cavaliers (16-5, 7-3 ACC) at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday afternoon in a pivotal ACC matchup. 

After a great win on Tuesday night against Louisville at home, the Tigers hope to continue their successful week of in-conference play, playing a tough, defensive Cavaliers squad that has done an excellent job in ACC competition so far. 

Saturday’s game marks an action-packed day in Clemson sports. The game will be the second event of the day, as the men’s soccer national championship parade will occur that morning, beginning at 11:30 a.m. The team will also be honored at Littlejohn at halftime during the contest. 

The team has found success in the post as of late, running their offense through PJ Hall, as usual, over the last few games, especially at home. Over his last three home games, Hall has averaged 27.3 points and 11 rebounds per night, hoping to continue his incredible stretch of games in front of a home crowd. 

Clemson is hoping for a statement win over their opponent, who have had their number recently in conference play. The Cavaliers have won five straight against the Tigers and have taken wins in their last six trips to Littlejohn Coliseum. 

The game will favor the home team, however. Virginia is 2-4 in away games this season, with their only wins being against Georgia Tech and Louisville. Clemson, on the other hand, are 8-2 in their ten contests at home this season, sharing a loss of Georgia Tech as well as a loss to North Carolina. 

But throughout the evolution of college basketball as of late, one thing has always remained constant: Tony Bennett and Virginia basketball. 

The Wahoos turn their defense into victories, holding ACC teams to only 57.4 points per game. They also lead the conference in the turnover margin, holding a positive margin of 5.19. A 1.82 assist-to-turnover ratio is also the best in the ACC. 

Despite being on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament currently, the Cavaliers are on a five-game winning streak, most recently defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish by 12 points on Wednesday night at home. With a win over the Tigers, Virginia would propel themselves into NCAA Tournament talks and remain at the top of the ACC.

Despite not being the most talented squad of Bennett’s coaching career, the team continues to have success off of turnovers. Virginia comes into this game led by guard Reece Beekman, who is the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year. The senior leads the ACC in assists and steals per game, dishing 6.2 assists per game and earning 2.5 steals per game. Through his defensive successes, he averages 13.3 points per game, a team-high. 

Fellow guard Ryan Dunn leads the team in rebounds and blocks, averaging 7.1 and 2.2, respectively. Another threat to the Tigers is Issac McKneely, who shoots an outstanding 48.1% from three-point range. Containing these three guys will be important if the Tigers want to come away with a vital win against a great opponent. 

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPN

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