Tigers will play for first-round bye

Clemson's 11-point loss at Duke on March 2 was the Tigers' largest of the season, which coach Brad Brownell says indicates a lot about his team.

"One thing I can say is we haven't had a bad night, ever," Brownell said. "We've shown great resiliency."

The Tigers have indeed. Despite the loss of two scholarship players to transfer and injuries to Demontez Stitt and Tanner Smith, the Tigers have posted a 19-10 record overall and 8-7 ledger in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Clemson has lost three games by two points and another by one point, and it was within two points of No. 4 Duke midway through the second half on Senior Night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Blue Devils have won 35 straight.

"I hear a lot about other teams having eight scholarships; we've had nine scholarships all year," Brownell said. "I don't think enough has been made of what my guys have been able to accomplish and overcome: a new system, new coaching, nine scholarship players, practicing against coaches, walk-ons, students, managers, grabbing a football player.

"This is the first time I've ever mentioned it, so I want someone to write something about how hard our team played. I'm tired of reading about everybody else in the league. Anybody on the selection committee that watched our game tonight -- we looked like a team that should be in the (NCAA) Tournament."

By tipoff, the Clemson-Duke game on March 2 was essentially irrelevant, at least from Clemson's perspective. Win or lose, the Tigers knew they'd still be playing for fourth place when they host Virginia Tech in their regular-season finale on March 5.

The Tigers' standing was enhanced by Miami's win over Maryland, as the Terrapins would have held a tiebreaker advantage over the Tigers had they tied in the standings.

As it stands, Clemson can claim fourth place with a win over the Hokies and finish 9-7 for a third consecutive season. The Tigers have never finished 9-7 and not made the NCAA Tournament.

A win over Virginia Tech on Clemson's Senior Day could really enhance the Tigers' ACC standing, seeding and NCAA Tournament resume, particularly with Tech coming off a recent win over then No. 1 Duke. Clemson will have to contain Malcolm Delaney, and the Tigers will attempt to do so by throwing multiple defenders at him, including Tanner Smith, Demontez Stitt and Bryan Narcisse.

But the real key may come from how well Jerai Grant and Devin Booker handle counterparts Jeff Allen and Victor Davila, who combined for 29 points and 25 rebounds in the win over Duke.

Saturday's game will be the final home game for Jerai Grant, Demontez Stitt, Zavier Anderson and Jonah Baize. With a 12:00 tipoff scheudled, the four seniors will be honored at 11:45 AM.

Fans are encouraged to arrive at Littlejohn Coliseum early.

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