Clemson is expecting around 70,000 fans to come to Tigertown Saturday to celebrate the football team’s 2018 National Championship.
The Parade begins around 9 a.m., and the celebration ceremony at Death Valley will follow. When everything is over, men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell is hopeful the fans will pack into Littlejohn Coliseum and help cheer on his team as the Tigers host top-ranked Virginia at noon.
“We certainly would love to see Littlejohn packed,” he said to The Clemson Insider on Friday. “Obviously, we are proud and very happy for Dabo (Swinney) and the players. I understand everybody wanting to go to the parade. If we did not have a game, we would go to the parade, too.”
Clemson (10-5, 0-2 ACC) is desperately in need of a conference win after losing back-to-back road games at No. 2 Duke and at Syracuse to open conference play. However, despite the slow start in conference play, the Tigers like their chances against the Cavaliers.
They know they can play with Virginia because they have before. In the ACC semifinals last March, the Cavaliers held off the Tigers, 64-56, in what was a very highly competitive game.
“We think we have a great chance (to win),” Brownell said. “We know we are going to have to play our best game of the year because of how good they are, and they just don’t beat themselves.
“They don’t turn the ball over and they’re excellent and they rebound at an unbelievable rate. But we know if we do the things we can control and we compete hard defensively, and on the glass and makes some shots, and use our crowd and the momentum of our crowd to help give us strength in spirit than this can be a heck of a ballgame and we can win it.”
Virginia (14-0, 2-0 ACC) comes in as one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the country. Brownell says Tony Bennett’s crew is the best team he has had at Virginia.
“From what I have watched on film, they look like the best team we have played this year,” the Clemson coach said. “It is unbelievably disciplined. They have tremendous versatility and it might be Tony’s best team.
“I think they have more different types of players that can play different types of ways.”
The Cavaliers have three starters averaging in double digits. Guard Kyle Guy is scoring 15.4 points per game, while guards Ty Jerome (13.5) and De’Andre Hunter (14.1) are also scoring in double figures.
“They certainly have great experience and they are a team that is very hungry.”
The Tigers are hungry, too. Sitting with two conference losses is not how they wanted to start ACC play, and they definitely don’t want to fall to 0-3. However, Brownell knows his team has to play a complete game something they failed to do at Duke and at Syracuse.
“Our team is just trying to improve and get into a good rhythm,” Brownell said. “We played okay the first half of the Duke game and then played just very poorly in the second half. I was really disappointed in everything. Our execution, our effort, the atmosphere got to us and we just kind of gave into it. That was really disappointing.
“I thought against Syracuse we were very competitive, especially defensively. I thought we guarded very hard. I thought we had a good plan and I thought our defense was good enough to win. Offensively, we struggled again. We had too many turnovers, we missed free throws, we had chances. We had a chance to cut it to four and we missed a layup with three minutes to go. Offensively, we just have to keep fighting.”