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Previewing the ACC tournament semifinals

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: November 17, 2020

North Carolina continues to host the ACC tournament, even as all teams from the Tarheel state were knocked out in the quarterfinals.

Four teams are left chasing the title as the sun is setting on the truncated fall 2020 season. Preview this week’s semifinal matchups below.

Clemson (6-2-1) vs. Virginia (3-3-1), 6 p.m.

A rematch of last year’s ACC tournament final, the Cavaliers triumphed on that day, winning 3-1. Not taking into consideration the pandemic, there’s more different about UVA than Clemson between this year and last. The Tigers still have an attack buoyed by Kimarni Smith and Grayson Barber, with Philip Mayaka the engine room in midfield. Smith was on fire in the quarterfinals, scoring a first-half hat trick and assisting the other goal in a 4-1 win. Andres Ueland has the quality at the back to keep Smith in check, but going forward is where the Cavaliers have been inconsistent. Cabrel Happi Kamseu came through in a big way on the road at Wake Forest, as he scored both goals for the Cavaliers over the weekend. His entrance from the bench will have to be watched, but if UVA isn’t able to consistently trouble the Clemson back line, the Tigers may have too much to cope with.

Pittsburgh (6-0-0) vs. Notre Dame (5-3), 8 p.m.

It was far from a straightforward matchup against Duke in the ACC quarterfinals, but Pitt got the job done in a 2-1 win. A few players were still missing due to COVID protocols, as the Panthers were returning to the pitch after having the final two regular season games canceled. Outside of Wake, Pitt and Clemson have been the best two teams in the conference, something that is sure to provide ample motivation for Notre Dame. Unlike the other semifinal, this is a rematch of the regular season, which Pitt won 3-1. When Pitt is clicking, they are tough to beat, passing the ball quickly through pressure and getting goals from several sources, whether it’s Valentin Noel, Alexander Dexter of Veljko Petkovic. Dexter could be of particular importance, as he can be inconsistent while also providing game-changing moments. Bertin Jacquesson was among the missing players for Pitt against Duke, so his involvement has the potential to change things up. The Irish counter with a talented group that can be difficult to break down. Jack Lynn is the obvious name to remember, while Aiden McFadden’s been solid during his senior campaign. There’s no doubt that the Panthers are favored, but the Irish have every chance of advancing to the final.

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