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NCAA Tournament 2011: Clemson Vs. UAB In First Four Round Opens ACC Play

The 2011 NCAA Tournament kicks off tonight when UNC-Asheville and Arkansas Little Rock square off at 6:30 on truTV, which used to be called Court TV. Clemson and UAB battle to get the East's No. 12 seed at 9 p.m., also on truTV. Both games are being played in Dayton, Ohio. 

Clemson (21-11, 9-7 ACC) averages 68.3 points and 34.9 rebounds per game. The Tigers have three double-digit scorers led by Demontez Stitt with 14.7 points per game. Jerai Grant and Andre Young also pose scoring threats. The team has a ton of experience with four seniors and four juniors compared to only four underclassmen. Clemson does not have a single win over a ranked team and went 0-3 against the top 25. Notable games against tournament participants include a one point loss in November to Old Dominion, an eight point loss to Michigan, and a big win over FSU in late January. 

UAB (22-8, 12-4 C-USA) puts up 68.9 points and 36 rebounds per game, remarkably similar to Clemson's numbers. Their two-headed duo of Jamarr Sanders and Cameron Moore combine to score 31 points per game. Sanders is a tall six-foot-five guard that brings a ton of experience as a senior. Moore, standing six-foot-ten, will be a challenge for Clemson's frontcourt. The Blazers have wins at Arkansas (OT) and against VCU. Notable losses include a two point decision at Georgia and a 21 point loss at then No. 1 Duke. 

SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean has Clemson winning this game because "the Tigers have a bit more of a reason for being here." Our friends at OddsShark list Clemson as a 4½ point favorite with an over/under somewhere in the 121-point range, depending on who you ask. 

For the previews of ACC games we are going to include two of the more successful ranking systems, Ken Pomeroy'sKenneth Massey's, and Joel Sokol's. All three ratings systems pick Clemson as the better team, with the Tigers coming in ranked at 24, 39, and 39 respectively, compared to 56, 54, and 65 for UAB. 

SB Nation Atlanta's prediction: UAB has heard for two days how much three or more teams deserve to be there instead of the Blazers and will put a fight early, but Clemson has too much battle-tested firepower and will get the victory. 

For more on the Clemson Tigers, head to Shakin' The Southland.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.