TV Schedule: Tuesday, Jan. 19, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Arena: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
Line: Virginia (-9.5)
There is not a hotter team in college basketball right now than the Clemson Tigers.
After losing to three SEC teams and their opening ACC game in December, the Tigers have reeled off five straight ACC wins over teams expected to at least push for a 2016 NCAA tournament berth, including three ranked opponents. Back-to-back-to-back home wins over the then No. 16 Louisville Cardinals, No. 9 Duke Blue Devils and No. 8 Miami Hurricanes have led to Clemson going from a borderline NIT team to a solid NCAA tournament lock.
That being said, things are not going to get any easier for the Tigers. Next up is a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, to face off with the No. 13 Virginia Cavaliers, who have lost three of their last four games in conference play.
Virginia came into the season as one of the favorites to win the ACC, but have dropped all but one true road game. Every one of these games has come by seven or less points, meaning that it is likely a fixable mental issue and not something that will hamper them for the rest of the season. More good news for the Cavaliers is that they are catching the streaking Tigers in John Paul Jones Arena, where they remain undefeated in the season.
Clemson might be riding high at the moment, but I do not believe they get the better of Virginia at home. Watch for the Tigers to continue to upset top teams at home, but things get much more difficult in the ACC on the road – as Virginia found out the hard way.
Prediction: Virginia 68, Clemson 62