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January 18, 2008

Clemson looks for better outcome at Duke

MORE BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
Maryland at North Carolina
Clemson at Duke
Miami at NC State
Boston College at Virginia
Florida State at Wake Forest
Wake Forest at Clemson
Virginia at Florida State
Georgia Tech at NC State
North Carolina at Miami
Duke at Virginia Tech

Best matchup: No. 24 Clemson at No. 7 Duke. If this meeting is anything like the last between these teams in Cameron Indoor Stadium, it will be worth watching. The Tigers (14-3, 2-1 ACC) trailed by five points with 12.7 seconds left at Duke (14-1, 2-0) last season, but managed to tie the score on a 3-pointer from Vernon Hamilton. Duke's David McClure, aided by a clock error, then scored on a layup at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils a dramatic and controversial win. The Tigers are coming off a double-overtime win over Florida State and a convincing win over N.C. State. The Blue Devils pushed their winning streak to four after holding off a late comeback by Florida State in what was a particularly physical game Wednesday night. The Tigers are 4-55 all-time at Cameron.

The pressure is on: Virginia. The Cavaliers (10-5, 0-2), who were expected to challenge for an NCAA bid, are in danger of becoming a long shot for the field after an overtime loss at the buzzer to Virginia Tech on Wednesday. A loss to Boston College (12-4, 3-0) at home Saturday would drop the Cavaliers to 0-3 in league play with a road trip to Florida State (12-6, 1-2) next. Getting more production from the supporting cast of star guard Sean Singletary is the key. Singletary scored a season-high 34 points while the rest of the team combined for 35 in the loss to the Hokies.

Upset alert: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech. A look at the records makes the Hokies (11-6, 2-1) look like the favorite over the Jackets (7-9, 0-3), the only team in the ACC with a losing overall record. But the Hokies should feel fortunate they're not winless in league play. Both their ACC wins have come by one point (67-66 over Maryland and 70-69 in overtime over Virginia). The Jackets are certainly capable of exposing the Hokies, especially at home. They played their best game of the season Wednesday night in Atlanta, trading baskets for 40 minutes with No. 1 North Carolina (18-0, 3-0) before suffering an 83-82 loss.

RPI watch: North Carolina continues to hold the top spot, while Duke, aided largely by Pittsburgh's win over Georgetown on Monday (the Blue Devils' only loss was to Pitt), has risen to No. 9. The Pac-10 is the only other league with two teams in the top 10 (UCLA at No. 6 and Arizona at No. 10). Clemson is No. 28 with Miami next at No. 42. Virginia has taken a sharp fall to No. 87.

Key stat: North Carolina leads the league in six statistical categories: scoring offense (91.7 ppg), field-goal percentage (49.0 percent), rebounding margin (plus-11.3), assists (17.8 per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.24-1) and defensive rebounds (28.7 per game). They rank second in three others: free-throw percentage (75.0 percent), offensive rebounds (15.9 per game) and scoring margin (plus-20.9 per game).

Freshman to watch: A number of prospects (Jared Dudley, Troy Bell and Tyrese Rice) who were passed over by elite programs have developed into stars under Boston College coach Al Skinner. The next could be Rakim Sanders, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound shooting guard who is averaging 12.6 points and shooting 46.6 percent from 3-point range. Sanders has scored in double figures in five consecutive games, including a 20-point performance in the Eagles' 76-66 win over Miami on Tuesday.

Who's hot: Virginia junior guard Mamadi Diane has made 29 of 62 (46.7 percent) attempts from 3-point range. Wake Forest freshman guard Jeff Teague has scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games. Florida State senior guard Jason Rich is averaging 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds over his past eight games. Duke sophomore guard Jon Scheyer has made 14 of 23 field goals (60.8 percent) over his past two games.

Who's not: Virginia Tech freshman guard Malcolm Delaney is shooting 25.9 percent (7-for-27) from the field over his past four games. Virginia senior wing Adrian Joseph has made just 5-for-18 3-pointers (27.7 percent) over his last three games. NC State sophomore forward Brandon Costner missed all six of his field-goal attempts and was held scoreless in the Wolfpack's 70-54 loss to Clemson on Tuesday. Costner was held to four points in the Wolfpack's previous game, a 93-62 loss at North Carolina.

Worth noting: Clemson's next four opponents (Duke, Wake Forest, Miami and Boston College) are a combined 50-12. North Carolina's Roy Williams has the highest winning percentage (80.5 percent) among active coaches with at least 10 seasons at the Division I level. Boston College's Tyrelle Blair leads the league with 4.2 blocks a game, the highest total since Georgia Tech's Alvin Jones averaged 4.3 blocks a game in 1998. Maryland leads the league with 7.3 blocks per game and is on pace to break the league's season record of 6.7 per game set by the 2004 Terps. Virginia's Singletary has scored in double figures in 37 consecutive games. Clemson guard Terrence Oglesby is averaging 11.9 points despite not starting once this season. Florida State's Leonard Hamilton will make his third attempt at winning his 300th career game when the Seminoles travel to Wake Forest on Sunday.

MORE BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.

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