Game Preview: #4 Virginia faces final road test of 2016 at Clemson

virginia clemsonHard to believe, isn’t it? Fourth-ranked Virginia plays its final road game of the 2015-2016 season Tuesday night at Clemson.

From here on out, it’s one home game, then neutral courts.

Might be good news for the Cavs (22-6, 11-5 ACC), who are 4-6 in true road games this season.

Which isn’t to pick on UVA in pointing that out. #1 Kansas and #2 Michigan State are each 6-3 on the road this year, which is good, not great, but good.

Then you look at #7 Miami: 5-4. Eighth-ranked North Carolina is 5-5. Maryland is 4-5, Louisville 4-6, Kentucky … 3-7.

Road woes come with the territory this season, and one of the reasons why is a team like Clemson (16-12, 9-7 ACC).

In back-to-back-to-back nights last month, the Tigers knocked off Louisville, Duke and Miami.

Remember those days, when Clemson was 5-1 in the ACC?

Since a 69-62 loss at Virginia on Jan. 19, Clemson has been average, to the point of playing themselves basically completely off the NCAA Tournament bubble, with a 115 RPI that, for perspective, is lower than JMU (96), Grand Canyon (101), Virginia Tech (110) and even NC State (111).

But Clemson is 13-3 at home, and it’s Senior Night.


Inside Clemson

  • Jaron Blossomgame was a huge matchup problem for Virginia in January, as he is for most teams. Blossomgame, a 6’7” stretch four, scored 23 on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 from three, guarded primarily by Anthony Gill. Maybe coach Tony Bennett switches things up and puts Isaiah Wilkins on Blossomgame and has Gill check Landy Nnoko (8.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, 55.0 percent shooting). Interesting thought: what about throwing Malcolm Brogdon into that mix? A wild thought there …
  • Offense: Clemson scores 69.7 points per game, 14th in the ACC, shooting 43.4 percent from the floor (12th in the ACC) and 35.1 percent from three-point range (10th in the ACC), scoring 1.117 points per possession (42nd nationally).
  • Defense: Opponents score 64.2 points per game, third in the ACC, shooting 42.1 percent from the floor (fifth in the ACC) and 35.1 percent from three (ninth in the ACC), scoring .994 points per possession (84th nationally).
  • Tempo: 64.5 possessions per game, 335th nationally


Inside Virginia

  • Anthony Gill had a nice bounceback game Saturday against North Carolina, with 15 points and nine rebounds against the stout UNC frontline. Gill will be challenged defensively, as was noted above, because his one weak spot is defending a stretch four.
  • Malcolm Brogdon has scored 20+ in three straight, and in 10 of Virginia’s 16 ACC games. Over his last four, he’s averaging 23.5 points on 58.7 percent shooting from the floor and 48.0 percent shooting from three. All the while spending time guarding the likes of Brandon Ingram, Cat Barber, Sheldon McClellan and Justin Jackson. Yeah, this guy is the ACC player of the year, no apologies to anybody.
  • Offense: Virginia scores 71.0 points per game, 12th in the ACC, shooting 49.2 percent from the field (best in the ACC) and 40.3 percent from three (also best in the ACC), scoring 1.182 points per possession (10th nationally).
  • Defense: UVA opponents score 60.2 points per game, best in the ACC, shooting 42.1 percent from the field (fourth in the ACC) and 35.3 percent from three (10th in the ACC), scoring .930 points per possession (10th nationally).
  • Tempo: 61.6 possessions per game (351st of 351 teams nationally).

– Preview by Chris Graham

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