Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs the Virginia Tech Hokies – NCAAT Edition

In Game Previews, Previews by Brian HoraceLeave a Comment

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March 29, 9:39PM
Capital One Arena
Washington, DC
CBS

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Duke in the NCAA Tournament

Duke Championships: 5 (Tied 4th-Most)
Overall Record: 113-37 (43rd appearance)
Under Coach K: 96-29 (35th appearance)
As a No. 1-seed: 53-9 (14th appearance)
As as Automatic Bid: 66-18
In the East Region: 57-15

Media Info:

TV: CBS (Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson)
Radio: Westwood One (Kevin Kugler/John Thompson)
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network (David Shumate/John Roth)
Sirius/XM: 135/201 (National broadcast)

Duke and Virginia Tech will face each other with an Elite 8 birth on the line. In their one and only matchup this season Virginia Tech out-dueled the Blue Devils by 5 in Blacksburg. Both teams were without their premier players with both Justin Robinson and Zion Williamson out of action.

Robinson has played in both tournament games so far scoring 9 and 13 in rounds 1 and 2. He's 2 of 5 from 3 point range and played just under 30 minutes in each game. On the season Robinson is shooting the 3 at a 41% clip and averaging 13.4 points a game and 5 assists. Nickeil Alexander-Walker leads the Hokies in scoring at 16.4 points a game, he also averages 3.9 assists and shoots the the 3 at 38%. Kerry Blackshear Jr., a 6'10 forward has stepped up his play in the last half of the season and is averaging 14.9 points per game and. 7.3 rebounds. Blackshear's ability to step out and hit the 3 has made him a matchup nightmare for opposing big men. He is shooting 34% from beyond the arc. No player in their top 6 rotation wise shoots the ball below 34%. In fact the Hokies are 8th in the country in 3 point percentage and top 100 in attempts. The Hokies are a guard oriented team and only utilize one player over 6'6. Duke will need to chase the Hokies off of the 3 point line to even out the 3 point advantages, making them hit tough 2's. With Duke's larger, full lineup one would hope Duke would have an advantage defensively in the paint.

In their first matchup the Blue Devils actually shot better from beyond the arc than the Hokies but with the Hokies actually having one more made 3 than the Blue Devils. Where the Blue Devils were at a deficit was at the free throw line. In a 5 point loss the Hokies had 8 more points from the free throw line than the Blue Devils. The Blue Devils also had twice and many turnovers than the Virginia Tech which lead to a 13 to 6 advantage in points off of turnovers.

I would suspect the Hokies to zone the Blue Devils rather than match up man-to-man. Duke has a significant edge in height. Depending on how Duke chooses to attack the zone it could be a huge night for Cam Reddish if he is up for the task. Reddish had a mixed-bag game against the Hokies in meeting number 1. Reddish went 6 of 13 from the floor and 3 of 6 from 3 point range for 17 points but was also responsible for 5 of the 12 Blue Devil turnovers. If not Reddish, Duke could use Alex O'Connell to help bust the zone. O'Connell was 2-2 from 3 point range in the first matchup in Blacksburg - playing 20 minutes.

FRESHMAN FORWARD CAM REDDISH

On the key to defeating Virginia Tech: “Staying together on both sides of the floor. They are a great defensive team and can really shoot the ball so making sure we are engaged on both ends of the floor and making sure we are communicating throughout the entire game.

On being more comfortable going into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament: “I think we do. We have a little bit more confidence and like you said getting jitters out of the way. We had a nice little practice today and hopefully we prepared for what’s to come.”

On what the team has learned after the win against UCF: “Can’t take anything for granted. Making sure we give every minute our all. We can’t take any plays off because every team is out there fighting for their lives and we have to go out there and fight for ours and just play our game.”

On making clutch shots down the stretch in the final moments of games this season and what makes his three-point shot better during that time: “I’m not really sure. I would say my focus and our will to win really. We all just want to win really badly and we all look forward to taking that shot and just being focused and being engaged and being ready.”


FRESHMAN GUARD TRE JONES

On defending Virginia Tech’s guards: “It won’t change for me and I’ll still pressuring the ball. We will still be pressuring as a team and we won’t change our defense based on the other team. With them having more ball handlers -- and if they do happen to have someone else bring up the ball which we’ve seen in the past -- whoever is guarding that guy will continue to pressure the ball and off ball will be pressuring the same way that we always do.

On playing Justin Robinson for the first time this season: “He has been an elite guard for a while now and obviously he makes a big difference so we will just try to make the game difficult for him.”

On the captains’ leadership and helping the freshmen this season: “Ever since the first day when we stepped on campus they showed us what it is like around here. They have led by example with everything and they are always on time. They are always saying the right things and doing the right things, leading in workouts, practices, whatever it is they are always leading and for us freshmen coming in, we don’t really know what it’s like because it is our first time around, so with them leading like that it helps a lot knowing we can trust in those guys to always lead us in the right direction.”

On if playing 40 minutes per games for four more games is sustainable: “Four more games aren’t guaranteed. Whatever is needed for those next 40 minutes is what we are going to give to be able to advance, so if it’s 40 minutes, we are going to put our body on the line for those 40 minutes to try and get the win.”

DUKE 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
30.7%
Virginia Tech 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
39.5%
DUKE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
47.7%
Virginia Tech SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
47.3%
DUKE FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
68.7%
Virginia Tech FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
76%
Duke PPG
83.4
Virginia Tech PPG
73.6

Duke Probable Starters

  • G Tre Jones 6'2, 183lbs
  • F Zion Williamson 6'7, 283lbs
  • F R.J. Barrett 6'7, 202lbs
  • F Cam Reddish 6'8, 218lbs
  • F Javin DeLaurier 6'10, 234lbs

Virginia Tech Probable Starters

  • G Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 6'5, 205lbs
  • G Wabissa Bede, 6'1, 195lbs
  • G Ahmed Hill 6'5, 210lbs
  • G Justin Robinson 6'2, 190lbs
  • F Kerry Blackshear Jr., 6'10, 250lbs

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