With their once-promising breakout season in peril, Clemson Men's Basketball hosts the Louisville Cardinals Tuesday evening in Littlejohn Coliseum on the Clemson campus.
After an 11-1 start that included road wins over Pittsburgh and Alabama, along with wins over Boise State, South Carolina and TCU, the Tigers will leave behind a giant skid mark in January, recording a 2-5 mark in the month to date.
That can be ameliorated, at least to a certain extent with a win over a team that's had a worse January than the Tigers - the Cardinals are 1-7 this month - and one that kept the Tigers out of last season's NCAA Tournament with an upset win at Louisville.
Coming off a crushing loss to Duke on the road Clemson has to find a way to get motivated and take care of business if they want to be playing meaningful games in mid-March.
The Cardinals meanwhile, are simply playing out the string at 6-14 overall, but their one win this month is in Miami over a Hurricane team that schooled the Tigers on the same floor back in early January.
Just like when they took out Clemson last season, Louisville is capable of beating good teams on any given day, so the Tigers energy will be key in this one.
By now you're familiar with the names atop Clemson's leaderboards: P.J. Hall (19.6 per game), Joe Girard (14.8) and Chase Hunter (11.8) leading the Tigers in scoring, with Ian Schieffelin (9.7) and Hall leading Clemson in rebounds.
Louisville boasts five double-digit scorers on the season led by Mike James at 13.7 points per contest, followed by Skyy Clark (13.2), Tre White (12.2), Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (11.0) and JJ Traynor (10.1).
Huntley-Hatfield, a 6'10 junior forward, leads the Cardinals with 8.6 boards per game.
The Tigers are still elite in certain facets of their offensive game, ranking 15th in KenPom.com's offensive efficiency rankings and coming in the 90th percentile in effective field goal percentage per cbbanalytics.com
Clemson Men's Basketball heavily favored in matchup with Louisville
The term must win is used far too often, especially when we don't know how the rest of the schedule will play out. This is a Clemson team that could beat anyone on the schedule any where in the country.
Yet, a loss to a 231st-ranked (NET Ranking) Louisville team would be devastating to Clemson's March hopes.
The Tigers are ranked a comfortable 28th in the NET Rankings, but after a torrid start, look up and find themselves only 3-5 against Quad 1 teams and holding a Quad 3 loss like a weight around their neck.
Quite simply, many are waiting for them to fail.
The Tigers are currently a massive 16.5-point favorite, with the total set at 151.
The game is scheduled for 9 p.m. and will be televised on the ACC Network.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.