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One win from first Final Four, No. 6 Clemson faces No. 4 Alabama tonight

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Tonight’s the night in Los Angeles.After their third straight upset in the NCAA Tournament, the No. 6-seeded Clemson Tigers (24-11) take aim at No. 4 Alabama (24-11) Saturday night in the Elite 8. The winner will advance to their first-ever Final Four.”I think we’re a hungry group that is playing really good basketball,” said head coach Brad Brownell. “We know we have a terrific opponent in Alabama. They played fantastic and beat a really good Chapel Hill team. We have our hands full, but we’re excited for the opportunity.”According to ESPN, Clemson is the first team to win its first three NCAA Tournament games as an underdog in all three, since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.But the Tigers have never resembled much of an underdog during this spectacular March Madness run, leading for nearly 113 minutes of the 120 they’ve played against No. 11 New Mexico, No. 3 Baylor and No. 2 Arizona, and trailing for a combined total of 50 seconds.Their 77-72 win over the Wildcats at crypto.com Arena on Thursday night was the highest-seeded team the Tigers have ever beaten in NCAA Tournament history. They did so in much the same manner they have through their postseason run, by building a big lead, relying on their defense, and getting another huge performance from Chase Hunter.Clemson’s fifth-year senior point guard has been at his best in the past few weeks, leading the Tigers in scoring in all three of their tournament games. It’s the first time in his college career he’s scored at least 18 points in three consecutive games, and has done so while playing outstanding defense on the other end of the floor.Yet again, the Tigers are the underdog against the Crimson Tide, despite having beaten Alabama once already earlier this season in Tuscaloosa. PJ Hall, Hunter and Joe Girard combined to score 52 as the Tigers took a late lead for an 85-77 win in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge on Nov. 28.”We’re definitely going to need to be the one to make improvements this game because they were significantly better than we were at our place,” said Alabama head coach Nate Oats. “We didn’t handle their physicality well. This is one that I’m glad we played them early so our players have some idea of the physicality and how good their bigs are, because their bigs hurt us a lot inside and their guards hurt us too.”Alabama held off North Carolina in their Sweet 16 matchup Thursday to advance to their second Elite 8. Senior forward Grant Nelson scored a season-best 24 points in the win over North Carolina, while UNC’s RJ Davis, the ACC Player of the Year scored 16 points on a 4-of-20 shooting performance.Clemson and Alabama have met on the football field deep in the postseason multiple times. Between 2016 and 2019, the Tigers and Crimson Tide met in the College Football Playoff each January, with the teams splitting the four meetings, though both of Clemson’s wins came in the National Championship game. But Saturday night will be the first time they have ever met in an NCAA Tournament game.The Elite 8 matchup tips off at 8:49 PM on TBS.The winner will advance to meet either No. 1 overall seed UConn or the No. 3-seeded Illinois Illini next Saturday night in the Final Four.

Tonight’s the night in Los Angeles.

After their third straight upset in the NCAA Tournament, the No. 6-seeded Clemson Tigers (24-11) take aim at No. 4 Alabama (24-11) Saturday night in the Elite 8. The winner will advance to their first-ever Final Four.

“I think we’re a hungry group that is playing really good basketball,” said head coach Brad Brownell. “We know we have a terrific opponent in Alabama. They played fantastic [Thursday] and beat a really good Chapel Hill team. We have our hands full, but we’re excited for the opportunity.”

According to ESPN, Clemson is the first team to win its first three NCAA Tournament games as an underdog in all three, since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

But the Tigers have never resembled much of an underdog during this spectacular March Madness run, leading for nearly 113 minutes of the 120 they’ve played against No. 11 New Mexico, No. 3 Baylor and No. 2 Arizona, and trailing for a combined total of 50 seconds.

Their 77-72 win over the Wildcats at crypto.com Arena on Thursday night was the highest-seeded team the Tigers have ever beaten in NCAA Tournament history. They did so in much the same manner they have through their postseason run, by building a big lead, relying on their defense, and getting another huge performance from Chase Hunter.

Clemson’s fifth-year senior point guard has been at his best in the past few weeks, leading the Tigers in scoring in all three of their tournament games. It’s the first time in his college career he’s scored at least 18 points in three consecutive games, and has done so while playing outstanding defense on the other end of the floor.

Yet again, the Tigers are the underdog against the Crimson Tide, despite having beaten Alabama once already earlier this season in Tuscaloosa. PJ Hall, Hunter and Joe Girard combined to score 52 as the Tigers took a late lead for an 85-77 win in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge on Nov. 28.

“We’re definitely going to need to be the one to make improvements this game because they were significantly better than we were at our place,” said Alabama head coach Nate Oats. “We didn’t handle their physicality well. This is one that I’m glad we played them early so our players have some idea of the physicality and how good their bigs are, because their bigs hurt us a lot inside and their guards hurt us too.”

Alabama held off North Carolina in their Sweet 16 matchup Thursday to advance to their second Elite 8. Senior forward Grant Nelson scored a season-best 24 points in the win over North Carolina, while UNC’s RJ Davis, the ACC Player of the Year scored 16 points on a 4-of-20 shooting performance.

Clemson and Alabama have met on the football field deep in the postseason multiple times. Between 2016 and 2019, the Tigers and Crimson Tide met in the College Football Playoff each January, with the teams splitting the four meetings, though both of Clemson’s wins came in the National Championship game. But Saturday night will be the first time they have ever met in an NCAA Tournament game.

The Elite 8 matchup tips off at 8:49 PM on TBS.

The winner will advance to meet either No. 1 overall seed UConn or the No. 3-seeded Illinois Illini next Saturday night in the Final Four.

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