Heavy Underdogs

Clemson, SC - After beginning February with one of the most dominant performances in college basketball this season, Clemson finds itself struggling once again.

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Looking to bounce back and avoid falling further back in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, the No. 13 Tigers host a Maryland team that is beginning a brutal stretch of games this week.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Clemson -11 point spread favorites for Tuesday’s game against the Maryland. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 69% of more than 205 bets for this game have been placed on the Maryland +11.

Clemson (20-4, 6-4) moved within one-half game of first place in the ACC with a 74-47 drubbing of then-No. 4 Duke on Feb. 4. The win - the Tigers' third straight at the time - seemed to prove they were back on track after splitting their first four conference games, including back-to-back losses to then-No. 2 Wake Forest and then-No. 5 North Carolina.

The Tigers, though, have dropped two of their last three since beating the Blue Devils and their chances of winning the conference now are slim. On Sunday, they fell 85-81 in overtime to a Virginia team that entered with just one ACC win.

The Cavaliers led by eight at the half and forced 21 turnovers - a season high for the Tigers against a conference opponent. Terrence Oglesby scored 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers, but failed to connect on a potential game-tying 3 with eight seconds left.

"We certainly weren't sharp offensively by any measure," coach Oliver Purnell said. "In the second half, we came out with a lot more energy; playing our game up-tempo, pushing it. Then, I don't know if we got tired there at the end, but we didn't defend in the last five or six minutes of regulation."

The Tigers are giving up 73.4 points in their last eight games after holding opponents to 62.4 during a 16-0 start to the season.

"It's a tough loss," said leading scorer Trevor Booker, who had 16 points. "It upset me, so hopefully it upset everyone else and focused us on what we need to bring to the game. ... Maryland is coming up. So, we have to look forward to that game."

Maryland (16-8, 4-4), meanwhile, is looking to move above .500 in conference play for the first time since winning its league opener. The Terrapins have won three of their last four, but now face three consecutive Top 25 opponents in Clemson, No. 2 North Carolina and 9th-ranked Duke.

Landon Milbourne scored a career-high 23 points to lead Maryland to an 83-73 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Terps went 24-of-26 at the foul line, sinking 22 of 23 in the second half.

"I thought we did a good job on both ends of the floor playing like a team," coach Gary Williams said. "The ball really moved offensively, especially in the second half."

Maryland is 1-4 on the road in the ACC, with the lone win coming against conference cellar dweller Georgia Tech by one point. Greivis Vazquez, the team's leading scorer at 16.2 points, is averaging only 11.4 in conference road games.

Maryland has lost five of the last seven against Clemson, including a 73-70 defeat last season at College Park.

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Posted: 2/17/09 3:30AM ET


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