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The Last Chance: Clemson must beat Virginia to keep NCAA hopes alive

Savannah N. Miller, Photo Editor

Junior forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) shoots a basket against Notre Dame.

At 16-12 overall, the Clemson Tigers aren’t very appealing to the NCAA Tournament selection committee at the moment. 

Following last week’s disappointing 75-73 loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, featuring a second-half collapse by the Tigers, Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell told reporters, “This really hurts, obviously, our NCAA Tournament hopes. That eats at you because we’ve done a lot of good things this year.” 

The disappointing loss did indeed hurt Clemson’s NCAA Tournament hopes. In fact, it all but destroyed them.

Of course, if Clemson is to win the ACC Tournament next week, which is highly unlikely, it will earn an automatic berth into the Big Dance. But, as of now, an at-large bid is the only legitimate possibility of the Tigers getting in, but tomorrow night could see that legitimate possibility become a virtual impossibility.

The Tigers face off against the No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers tomorrow night at home, and, considering how well Clemson played in Charlottesville against the Wahoos in a seven-point mid-January loss, the Tigers should have all the confidence in the world heading into the game. 

This is, without a doubt, a must-win for Clemson. The Tigers did not garner a single significant victory in the month of February, a serious letdown from a January filled with monumental wins. However, March is the most important month of the college basketball season, and Clemson needs a signature victory to usher in the month of madness.

Virginia guard Malcom Brogdon is averaging 18.5 points per game, third in the ACC and has been on an absolute tear as of late. Clemson has struggled mightily defending big guards throughout the season, and, considering Brogdon is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, the Tiger defense will have to step it up against the Cavs.

Tomorrow night is also Senior Night for Clemson, meaning senior starters Landry Nnoko and Jordan Roper will be honored prior to the opening tip. Seeing as those two have been solid contributors in all four of their respective seasons at Clemson, the Tigers should play with extra motivation and inspiration to win for two of Brownell’s most important recruits. 

Regardless of how the Tigers become energized for tomorrow night’s game, playing with an extra sense of urgency is necessary. Virginia is one of the nation’s top squads, but the Tigers proved in January that they are capable of dethroning any team. With the regular season nearing its end, that January magic must make a glorious return on Tuesday night if Clemson is to have any chance of dancing come Selection Sunday.

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