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Virginia Basketball Previews: Clemson

The Hoos look to extend their unbeaten record Tuesday by taking on the Clemson Tigers. This Clemson team defends pretty well, but likely doesn't have the firepower to upset the #3 team in the country. Teams tend to beat the Hoos by hitting outside shots, and that just isn't something Clemson really does.

Justin Anderson and the Hoos return to JPJ to face Clemson.
Justin Anderson and the Hoos return to JPJ to face Clemson.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information
Opponent: Clemson
Location: Charlottesville
Date: Tuesday, January 13
Time: 8:00 ET
Channel: ACC Network (also on WatchESPN)

Coming off a big road win over Notre Dame, the Hoos have had a couple of days off before hitting the court again Tuesday night. They will surely be glad to be home, and also glad to be facing a less talented opponent.

Clemson is a fairly mediocre team, although they do have some solid wins. They beat a solid LSU team in the US Virgin Islands, and they just won @Pitt on Saturday. This followed back to back losses to UNC and Louisville. The game against the Cardinals, they kept close, falling by 6 in Louisville. That is not a bad effort at all.

Overall, however, Clemson has lost at home to Winthrop (ranked 262 on KenPom), Gardner-Webb (194) and Rutgers (173). The Hoos may find it nice to face a team without quite as many weapons as Notre Dame on the offensive end. Clemson is also a bit more traditional in lineups, which would be a nice change after facing Notre Dame's 3 guard lineup.

Offensively, Clemson is...challenged. Just one of Clemson's regulars is among the top 500 offensive players in the nation. That is sophomore SF Jaron Blossomgame. And he's barely in the top 500. (As a comparison, Notre Dame and Virginia each have 5 in the top 100). Simply put, Clemson can't shoot. The team leader in 3 PT attempts is shooting under 27%, and the team's best shooter has taken just 24 treys. The main threat from the perimeter is senior SG Damarcus Harrison.

What Clemson does well is rebound the ball. Especially on the offensive glass, a concern for a Virginia team that gave up almost 40% offensive rebounds against the Irish. The main threat here is junior big man Landry Nnoko. Nnoko is also a tough interior defender, and one of the nation's top shot blockers. He's also prone to foul trouble, and Clemson doesn't really have anybody else with his ability inside. So getting him into foul trouble will make things a lot easier on the Hoos.

Defensively, Clemson is adequate. They play solid defense, contesting shots and generally staying in front of their man. They don't force turnovers, but they also don't foul much and don't give up many easy shots. Teams are forced to earn what they get against the Tigers. The Tigers rank 99% in the nation in defensive efficiency, and they held Louisville to under 1 point per possession. However, UNC scored over 1.25 points per possession and even Pitt was at 1.09 in Clemson's win. Clemson's ability to stop the Hoos may come down to whether or not the Hoos can sink some open shots and how well the Hoos interior guys play.

Clemson does not have any who matches up well with Anthony Gill. Freshman Donte Grantham will likely get the call early on, but he's giving up quite a bit of size. If they put Nnoko on Gill, then either Mike Tobey or Darion Atkins will have their way with Grantham.

On the other side, expect to see Justin Anderson on Blossomgame for most of the night, with Malcolm Brogdon guarding Harrison. As much as Grantham should struggle to contain Gill on the inside, the same could be said for Gill covering Grantham on the perimeter. Grantham can shoot, although he's under 25% on the season.

The Tigers almost definitely do not have the depth nor talent to beat the Hoos in Charlottesville. That's not to say the game will be easy. As we've seen over the past couple of weeks, the Hoos are going to get everybody's best shot and need to be prepared each and every game.

FWIW, KenPom predicts a 66-48 win for the Hoos. That would certainly be nice.