Duke (24-5, 12-4)
Virginia Tech (20-9, 9-7)
When: February 26 | 7:00 PM (ET)
Where: Cassell Coliseum - Blacksburg, VA
Watch Live: ESPN
The Blue Devils travel to Blacksburg in a rematch with the Hokies of Virginia Tech. Duke comes in on the strength of a 5 game win streak with 4 of those 5 opponents held to under 60 points. Coach K and staff have made some striking improvements on defense, accentuating the positives of the 2-3 zone while sprinkling in man-to-man when needed. Once the Blue Devils committed to the zone as their primary defensive scheme there have been improvements in communication as well as positioning. Duke is talking more - something the coaching staff has made a priority this season. The other positive development has been Grayson Allen, obviously the scoring column is an obvious place where Allen has made a difference but it may not be the most important. Allen has seemed, as of late, to embrace the role of "the talker" on this team. The little things like verbal encouragement or grabbing a player after a bad play to ensure his head is on the "next play". These are the types of things that a senior needs to do. It's not a babysitting role rather an extension of the coaching staff - besides, who would know better than someone who's been there. In any event it's resulted in Duke being a much more efficient defensive team an also has the shooting up the rankings and still perhaps in the conversation for a 1 seed in the NCAAT. Stranger things have happened.
The Hokies would love to show the world that the Virginia Tech team that Duke beat handily just 12 ays ago (74-52) is not an accurate representation of who they are as a squad. Justin Robinson was never able to get going in that game but the junior guard is still leading a balanced Hokies team with 13.8 points a game and 5.5 assists. Still the most dangerous person next to Robinson may be Justin Bibbs who averages 13 a game. Bibbs provides the Hokies with senior leadership and both he and Robinson are deadly from beyond the arc with both shooting 40% or better.
I don't think much will change for Duke in terms of offense or defense. You will see heavy doses of the 2-3 zone perhaps some full court or quarter court pressing and trapping. It will be interesting to see how or if Virgina Tech solves the zone if Duke will mix in some man to man or just live with chasing the Hokies off of the 3 point line and giving up difficult 2 point shots. Offensively, Duke definitely will continue to feed the bigs which will be much more effective if they can get Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. going from the outside. Duke struggled mightily from 3 point range against Syracuse hitting on only 2-18 which is a scoring 11.1%.
Projected Starting Lineups:
F Marvin Bagley III
F Wendell Carter Jr.
G Gary Trent Jr.
G Grayson Allen
G Trevon Duval
F Kerry Blackshear Jr.
G Devin Wilson
G Nickeil Alexander-Walker
G Justin Robinson
G Justin Bibbs
- Riding a five-game winning streak, and capping a stretch of three games in six days, No. 5 Duke heads to Blacksburg for a Big Monday date with Virginia Tech.
- The Blue Devils are looking for the season sweep of the Hokies, after winning 74-52 at Cameron Indoor on Feb. 14 behind 25 points from Grayson Allen.
- For the first time in school history, Duke has won four straight ACC games when holding the opponent to fewer than 60 points. Duke’s 52.2 ppg allowed since Feb. 14 are second-fewest in the NCAA.
- Duke, Michigan State, and Purdue are the only teams ranked in the top 20 of KenPom’s offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency ratings. The Blue Devils are second in offense (126.0) and 18th in defense (96.6).
- Senior Grayson Allen is averaging 20.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 2.4 spg, and shooting .367 (18/49) from three-point range over Duke’s five-game winning streak.
- Freshman Wendell Carter, Jr. has 15 double-doubles this season (12th in the NCAA). He has scored in double-figures in 19 straight games.
- Freshman Marvin Bagley III returned from a four-game absence (knee) and scored 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting against Syracuse with six dunks.
- Bagley’s 21.1 ppg and 11.2 rpg lead the ACC. He’s aiming to be the 13th player in ACC history (and first freshman) to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding.
- Sophomore Marques Bolden is 18-of-22 from the field with averages of 5.7 ppg and 4.1 rpg over Duke’s last seven.