Duke vs Virginia Tech
These teams played each other on Valentine’s Day and it did not end well for Virginia Tech. Duke won by 22 points in their home gym and have been on a roll as of late. Virginia Tech will have their hands full in this one with a Duke team that has been hot as of late.
Duke has been included in the FBI probe that has rocked the college basketball world this past week. I’m not going to look to much into this as it shouldn’t be a factor in this game. I think that the players on Duke understand and respect each other and all their coaches and realize that it is just outside noise being put on them by the media. Marvin Bagley is back and that’s huge for the Blue Devils. He is one of their best players, and they were able to win big when he was off the court, and they’re even better when he’s on the court. Their offense is ranked 5th in the nation in points per game and guys like Bagley, Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. are the main reasons why. Allen and Trent Jr. combined for 44 of their team’s 74 in their last meeting with Virginia Tech. Bagley did not play, but he will look to find his offensive rhythm before the tournament starts and this is one of his last chances to do so. This doesn’t look or feel like an offense that has any indication of slowing down any time soon. The defense of Duke has played well in recent games as well, limiting opponents to under 60 points in 4 straight games. Duke looks like they are tournament ready and should have no problem beating Virginia Tech tonight.
Virginia Tech has a really pesky defense and an offense that has the potential of putting up some big numbers. Their opponent is looking like the best team in the country at this point in the season, so they will have to fine tune their gameplan from the last time they met if they want to have success this time around. The only player for the Hokies with over 10 points in the last matchup with Duke was Justin Bibbs. They will need more contributions from other players if they don’t want to get embarrassed at home on senior day. Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Justin Robinson will look to redeem themselves from their last game against Duke and score more than 14 points combined. When two of your better players don’t combine for 20 points, you aren’t going to win many games. Virginia Tech has an extremely streaky offense, but when they are on, they can score upwards of 80 points a game. In 4 of the 5 games that Duke has lost this season, their opponent has scored over 80 points. Duke is going to score points no matter what type of defense you throw at them, so Virginia Tech needs to be more efficient on offense this time around. They did not move the ball well in their last matchup and it lead to them losing by 22 points on the road. Virginia Tech has one of the most lively home environments in the country and they will look for their offense to feed off the crowds emotion to help propel them to a victory over the Blue Devils.
Keys to the Game
Duke: Let Grayson Allen facilitate. I hate writing good things about this guy, I own a shirt that straight up says, “I Hate Grayson Allen,” but I gotta give it to him, he knows how to ball. He’s been tremendous on offense in Duke’s recent games and in their last game against VT he had 25 points. Not only has he been good on offense, but he’s played very well at the top of Duke’s zone. he’s been able to force the guards to make decisions early in the shot clock and cause turnovers with the help of Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duvall. Allen is very smart and his experience has helped Duke down the stretch. He will continue to dominate in this game and possibly pour in another 20+ for the Blue Devils.
Virginia Tech: Limit turnovers. Duke gets a lot off points off turnovers every game due to the pressure they apply to the ball when it crosses half court. The Hokies did pretty well in limiting turnovers the last time they played Duke, only giving the ball up ten times. However, Duke has stepped up their defense a little bit since they last time they played and have forced 13, 15 and 17 turnovers in their last 3 games. Virginia Tech will need to have everyone ready to go in this game. It’d make sense for them to start to pass the ball around an keep everyone moving on offense in order to get some open looks. Duke is better at forcing turnovers against offenses that are more stagnant. If Virginia tech can figure out an offense to keep their guys moving and keep making passes, they should be able to limit their turnovers and score more than 52 points this time around.
Duke shouldn’t have an issue winning this game. They look like the best team in the country right now and have really found their stride in late February. They have been on a roll lately and have won 4 of their last 5 by 10 or more points. I don’t see any signs of this team slowing down and with Bagley being in the lineup for this one, it may be another blowout against VT.
Duke 84 – VT 69
Duke covers -5.5