Battling for a bye

CLEMSON - By the time Sunday's game at Wake Forest rolls around at 6 PM, No. 18 Clemson will already know its potential fate for the ACC Tournament.

Going into the final day of the regular season, Clemson (22-6, 9-6) and Florida State are the only teams left who have a shot at earning a first-round bye as the No. 4 seed in next week's ACC Tournament in Atlanta. Currently, FSU (22-8, 9-6) holds the No. 4 spot given the head-to-head tiebreaker it owns on the Tigers by beating them twice earlier this year.

The Seminoles host Virginia Tech at 2 p.m., four hours before Clemson does battle with the 10th-ranked Demon Deacons (23-5, 10-5), who could finish as high as No. 2 in the ACC standings depending on the outcome of the Duke at North Carolina game.

In other words by the time Sunday's game at Wake Forest rolls around at 6 PM, No. 18 Clemson will already know its potential fate for the ACC Tournament.

"That's good, but at the same time, regardless of what happens, it is going to bode well for us so we have to be ready to go out and play hard," Clemson guard Terrence Oglesby said Friday.

Clemson coach Oliver Purnell says he will more than likely watch the FSU-Virginia Tech game from the hotel before the team departs to Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem. He is hopeful, regardless of the results that Oglesby is right and the team just focuses on winning the game.

"Our guys are human and you would like to hope the experience of the club, and at this point the experience of this whole season and the experience on this team, that they would understand it is important for us to play well," he said.

A win at a place no Tiger team has won since 1990, would also do wonders for their confidence heading into the ACC tournament.

"We need to win anyway because they are a good team and I think that would give us some confidence to be able to move forward and get that game under our belt," Oglesby said. "I would rather be 10-6 than 9-7. That's just being a competitor and that's what we have on this team and we want to win every game we play."

Purnell sees another positive than just trying to win for the first time in 18 years a Joel Coliseum. He also sees the value of playing such a high-pressured game with tournament basketball on the horizon.

"It is certainly a game that will mimic the kind of competition and the kind of motivating kind of team we will see in the postseason," he said. "It is a game that should prepare us well as long as we play well at Wake Forest.

"It seems like every game has its own special significance and it seems like this game could be hugely significant if we happen to be playing for a bye, but either way it is a big game in terms of getting some momentum heading into the ACC Tournament."

If Boston College should win Saturday at home against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech beats Florida State, the Tigers will be playing for more than just a first-round bye. Though a win in that scenario would definitely lock up a bye, a loss could drop them to the No. 6 seed and playing in Thursday night's 9:30 game to start the tournament.

In a three-way tie for fourth, Florida State would be the four seed and Boston College the fifth because of tiebreaker rules.

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