#18 Virginia vs #12 Clemson

#18 Virginia vs #12 Clemson | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on January 15, 2021

A handful of teams could win the ACC regular-season title this season, and No. 18 Virginia and No. 12 Clemson are two of them. The two face off in South Carolina on Saturday evening with the Tigers expected to be short NCAAB favorites.

How to Bet Virginia at Clemson NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

The schools met just once last season, a 51-44 Virginia home win. Braxton Key hit two critical 3-pointers in the final 5 minutes as the Cavaliers beat Clemson for the 10th consecutive time. His first 3-pointer came shortly after the Cavaliers went nearly 5 1/2 minutes without a point, seeing an 11-point lead whittled to 36-34. The next made it 45-39 with 51 seconds remaining. Clemson twice got within one possession in the closing minutes, but Key answered each time.

Why Bet on Virginia? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Virginia (8-2) beat Notre Dame 80-68 on Wednesday to stay unbeaten in the ACC. Jay Huff hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first 8 1/2 minutes of the game as Virginia took control right away and never let up. The Irish trailed 55-33 with 13 minutes left and used a 15-5 run to get within 66-56 with 5:41 to play, but Huff scored inside and Casey Morsell hit a 3-pointer. The Irish arrived leading the ACC in 3-point percentage, but made just 5 of 22.

“They made big jump shots in the first 10 minutes and we made none of our open ones and the game was kind of over after that,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

Huff matched his career high for the second straight game with 18 points, making a career-high four threes, and had two blocks. Casey Morsell had a season high 15 points, starting the game 5-for-5, in his return to action after sitting out the past two games. Morsell hit all three of his 3-point attempts; the three treys were a career high for Morsell, who shot 17.6 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman in 2019-20.

Morsell, who started 13 games in 2019-20, has started three of the eight in which he’s played this season. He’s shooting 46.8 percent from the floor and 83.3 percent from the line, and he’s raised his 3-point percentage to 35.3 percent.

Along with senior guard Austin Katstra, who was also sidelined because of contact tracing, Morsell was separated from the team for more than a week and didn’t return to practice until Monday.

Sam Hauser finished just shy of his fourth consecutive double-double with 15 points and a team high nine rebounds. Kihei Clark had 12 points and six assists and Trey Murphy III added 10 points with four assists.

Virginia shot 54.4 percent from the field and was 50 percent from three-point range. The Cavaliers made 12 threes, while holding Notre Dame to 23 percent beyond the arc. UVA led in rebounds (29-27). Virginia held Notre Dame to 1-of-11 from three in the first half. Tony Bennett used only seven players Wednesday, including Francisco Caffaro. A 7-0 redshirt sophomore from Argentina, Caffaro filled in for Kadin Shedrick, who was out with an illness.

Why Bet on Clemson? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Tigers (9-1) haven’t played since winning their fourth in a row on Jan. 5, 74-70 in OT over NC State. Clemson lives on its defense and entered as the ACC leader (and third nationally) in fewest points allowed. But the Wolfpack hit 15 of 27 shots in the opening half to lead 39-32 at the break.

The Tigers were still behind 59-53 with less than five minutes left before tying things on Nick Honor’s final 3 with 38.2 seconds to play. Honor, a high-scoring Fordham transfer, had 21 points off five 3-pointers. It was Honor’s highest point total since joining Clemson after sitting out last season. He’s a big shot maker and a candidate for the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year award.

Clyde Trapp scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Aamir Simms collected seven boards, as well, and he scored eight points and recorded a game-high four assists. P.J. Hall chipped in eight points and hit a clutch shot in overtime. Clemson has now rallied in its past three games to defeat then-No. 18 Florida State, Miami and the Wolfpack, which came in having won four of five over the Tigers.

The Tigers were supposed to play both North Carolina and Syracuse since that game but both were postponed. Clemson has started a season 9-1 for the 20th time in history. Seven of the nine wins are against Power Five conference opponents, the most of any in those 20 seasons. Previous high was five in 1934-35.

Clemson is ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense (57.6 points per game), which is also tops in the ACC. The Tigers boast the seventh-highest defensive turnover percentage (26.4), which represents the percentage of offensive possessions that end with a turnover.

The Tigers often use as many as 12 players in most games as they utilize their depth. The Tigers’ bench has produced 25+ points in seven games. Clemson has also had as many as 14 different scorers this season with six averaging over 5.0 points per game.

Expert College Basketball Prediction

Clemson 59, Virginia 57


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