The word coming out of Clemson's 75-57 victory over Virginia Tuesday night was "huge."
It was a "huge" victory for the 18th-ranked Tigers in so many ways, and now
it sets up a meeting with No. 10 Wake Forest on Sunday that brings a whole
new meaning to the word "huge."
"We knew we were going to be in this position. It is a must-win game,"
Clemson's Terrence Oglesby said after scoring a game-high 18 points. "We
have to be ready to go. Wake Forest is a tough team so we have to be
careful. We have to be ready for them."
Clemson (23-6, 9-6 ACC) also has to be ready for what is at stake. Heading
into Wednesday night's conference slate, the Tigers find themselves in a position
where they could finish anywhere from fourth to seventh when the final ACC
standings are laid to rest on Sunday evening.
Clemson is one of three teams that are still alive for that fourth and
final bye from the first-round in next week's ACC Tournament in Atlanta.
The Tigers first need a North Carolina win tonight over Virginia Tech and
a N.C. State win over Boston College in Raleigh to assure no worse than a
No. 5 seeding in the tournament.
If the Tigers can get to that point, then Sunday they will need to beat
Wake Forest, who currently stands third in the ACC and a Virginia Tech win
at Florida State on Sunday to secure at least one of the top four spots.
"We just want to know what is at stake here," Clemson senior K.C. Rivers
said. "Are we playing for third or fourth place, we do not know? But
again, we are going to prepare hard. We are getting ready to play a big,
strong and physical Wake Forest team."
No one really knows what the Tigers are playing for. If North Carolina
should lose tonight and then fall to Duke on Sunday and Clemson beat Wake,
then the Tigers could finish third considering tiebreakers in the ACC fall
back to who beat the higher team in the standings in the event two schools
split the season series.
That means Clemson's win over Duke on Feb. 4 - the only meeting between
the two - will lock up the No. 3 seed for the Tigers. Wake Forest was 1-1
against the Blue Devils this season.
Should Clemson beat the Deacons, Florida State lose to Virginia Tech and
North Carolina win tonight and Sunday, then the Tigers will be the four
seed thanks to their loss to UNC on Jan. 21.
If you got lost in all that, it can get worse, especially if Boston
College wins tonight and Saturday and Clemson beats Wake. But the most
important thing, the Tigers have to focus on is what they can control
right now and right now, that is beating a very good Wake Forest team that
is 10-5 in the ACC and 23-5 overall.
"We got a much needed win for our confidence, and a much needed win
hopefully for bye ramifications," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said.
The Virginia victory was a big win for the Tigers' confidence, especially
considering Purnell has players on this team that haven't experienced a
three-game losing streak in their careers.
"That's what I was concerned about," he said. "Certainly this team is
resilient, but I did not want to go there. Fortunately, we did not have to
go there. We got that win.
"It puts us in a position where we have another huge game. I don't know if
this year if I had not said that an ACC game hasn't been huge. It just
amazes me that we have another huge game.
"(Tuesday) was huge and now we are going to Wake Forest. There is a good
chance we will be playing for a bye, so that is huge."
Just no one knows how huge.
Sorting it all out
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