Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech vs. #7 Duke

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#7 Duke will bring another very talented and highly ranked team to Cassell Coliseum on Thursday night.  The Hokies have lost six of their last seven games, and things aren’t getting any easier.

Duke is 18-3 on the season, with losses to Ohio State, Temple and Florida State.  The Blue Devils have plenty of good wins over teams like Michigan State, Michigan, Kansas and Virginia, and as of now they are tied atop the conference standings with North Carolina and FSU, all of which have only one ACC loss.

Duke is coming off an 83-76 win over a very young St. John’s team, and Coach K was not pleased with the way his team performed throughout that contest.  The Blue Devils played a poor game defensively, and they turned the ball over.  Bet on a much better effort on Thursday night in Cassell Coliseum.

SeasonACC HomeACC AwayOOC HomeOOC AwayNeutral/TBD
2019-20Virginia
Miami
BC
Clemson
Duke
Syracuse
FSU
UNC
NC State
Pitt
Virginia
Miami
BC
Clemson
Duke
Syracuse
GT
Louisville
Notre Dame
Wake Forest
TBDTBDNov. 25-27: Maui Jim Maui Invitational
Lahaina Civic Center, Maui
Teams: Chaminade (host), BYU,
Dayton, Georgia,
Kansas, Michigan State,
UCLA, Virginia Tech
2020-21Virginia
Miami
FSU
Louisville
Notre Dame
Wake Forest
BC
Clemson
Duke
GT
Virginia
Miami
FSU
Louisville
Notre Dame
Wake Forest
UNC
NC State
Pitt
Syracuse
TBDTBDTBD
2021-22Virginia
Miami
GT
UNC
NC State
Pitt
Louisville
Notre Dame
Syracuse
Wake Forest
Virginia
Miami
GT
UNC
NC State
Pitt
BC
Clemson
Duke
FSU
TBDTBDTBD

Duke isn’t projected to be a National Championship contender this season.  They only have one senior, Miles Plumlee (6-11, 245), and he comes off the bench.  The Blue Devils’ top goal every year is to win the ACC Tournament, and then see where the road leads them. 

It leads them to Cassell Coliseum tonight, where they lost to Virginia Tech 64-60 last season.  Historically the Hokies give the Blue Devils tough games, though Tech is so young this season that it might not be realistic to hope for that outcome tonight.

The Blue Devils don’t have a deep bench, with only Miles Plumlee, Quinn Cook (6-0, 175, Fr.) and Tyler Thornton (6-1, 195, So.) seeing significant action.  Virginia native Josh Hairston (6-7, 235, So.) also sees playing time, though not much.  Their starters will play most of the game, and while they don’t have a dominant player this year, they are very solid across the board.

As usual, Duke can shoot the basketball.  Because of their ability to hit from the outside, and their dominant height on the inside, they are a very difficult matchup for most teams, and Virginia Tech is no exception.  Here’s a quick rundown of Duke’s three-point shooters …

  • Austin Rivers: 29 of 76 (38.2%)
  • Ryan Kelly: 25 of 53 (47.2%)
  • Seth Curry: 33 of 91 (36.3%)
  • Andre Dawkins: 49 of 120 (40.8%)
  • Quinn Cook: 11 of 35 (31.4%)
  • Tyler Thornton: 14 of 30 (46.7%)

When Seth Curry has one of your worst three-point percentages, that means you are a very good shooting team.  Particularly impressive is Ryan Kelly, who shoots nearly 50% from the outside despite his 6-11 frame.

Duke isn’t as good as the usually are this season because of one primary reason: defense.  The Blue Devils simply haven’t been able to stop teams from scoring.  Take a look at some of these defensive numbers…

  • 94th nationally in defensive efficiency (Virginia Tech is 43rd, as a comparison)
  • 10th in the ACC in scoring defense
  • 12th in the ACC in field goal percentage defense
  • 6th in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage defense

Those numbers are generally much her for the Blue Devils.  The biggest problem has been in the backcourt, where the Blue Devils have a freshman (Austin Rivers) and two players who are more offensive-minded (Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins).  Off the bench, Duke plays a freshman (Quinn Cook) and a sophomore (Tyler Thornton).  It’s not surprising that those young players haven’t developed the toughness and tenacity to play great defense for all 40 minutes of a game.

On the other hand, if a guy like Andre Dawkins still isn’t a great defender at this point in his career, he probably never will be.  He is a three-point shooter whose wants to fill up the net with outside jumpers, and defense is not his primary focus.

On the other hand, you don’t want to have to rely on scoring around the rim to beat Duke.  Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee are all taller than anyone Virginia Tech can put on the court.  They have combined for 79 blocks on the season.  They aren’t as proficient as UNC at blocking shots, but they are still difficult to score against on the inside.

To make a deep run in the postseason, Duke is going to have to get back to that court-slapping, tough defense mentality that they are used to.  That said, tonight they will face a Virginia Tech team that has been offensively challenged since ACC play began.  Here’s how the Hokies have fared in conference games…

  • 10th in scoring offense
  • 12th in field goal percentage

Only two things have kept the Hokies in games: free throw shooting and three-point shooting.  Tech is second in the ACC in free throw shooting in league games (75.8%) and fourth in three-point percentage (33.3%).  Tech has guys who can shoot (despite many folks holding the opposite opinion), but their biggest problems on offense are their youth and lack of legit and consistent inside scorers.  The Hokies have never been a particularly good offensive team under Seth Greenberg.  This year is even worse, because the personnel is limited.

Tech always plays Duke tough, but it’s difficult to see Virginia Tech coming out with a win in tonight’s matchup.

 

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2 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Chris: “This year is even worse, because the personnel is limited.” What did you mean by that? Seth has his recruits playing the minutes he wants to give them, with 2 senior, a junior and a sphomore leading the way.

    I think the telling sentence is: ” The Hokies have never been a particularly good offensive team under Seth Greenberg.” The personnel being limited is a misnomer. Even with JTT out, this team is healthier than most years, they just have no offense and no sense of urgency, which is painful to watch.

    1. Consider our playing rotation…

      4 Freshmen
      1 true sophomore who was suspended for part of last year, and barely played
      1 r-sophomore who had never been through preseason practice before
      1 r-senior who is playing in a partially torn meniscus
      1 senior post who can’t catch the ball or rebound very well

      Green is really the only player without a major flaw to his game, whether it be experience, injuries, etc.

      Greenberg’s offense isn’t good, but even if it was, I don’t think we’d be particularly good. We are just too limited this year.

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