Virginia Tech Basketball Set to Face No. 12 Duke

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Justin Robinson Virginia Tech
Justin Robinson (right) has led the Hokies in scoring in six of their last eight games. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech (18-7, 7-5) at No. 12 Duke (20-5, 8-4)
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN2

Fresh off their biggest win of the season at now-No. 1 Virginia, the Virginia Tech Hokies travel to Durham to take on No. 12 Duke.  The Blue Devils had lost three out of four games, until their Sunday night 80-69 victory in Atlanta over Georgia Tech.  They have a number of talented freshmen who will be in the NBA at this time next season, though one of them might not be able to play against Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.

The status of freshman phenom Marvin Bagley III is up in the air.  He did not play in Duke’s Sunday night victory over Georgia Tech.  The Duke coaching staff has not offered an update on his availability, but reports out of Durham indicate that he has not practiced with the team this week.  He has been suffering from a knee injury.

Bagley (6-foot-11, 234 pounds, Fr.) averages 21.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, and is one of the most dominant players in the country.  Without him, Duke’s starting lineup against Georgia Tech looked like this:

G Grayson Allen (6-foot-5, 205 pounds, Sr.): Averaging 14.6 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.  Allen is a veteran and still a very good player for Duke, though he has been passed by others in the program.

G Gary Trent, Jr. (6-foot-6, 209 pounds, Fr.): Averaging 15.1 ppg and 4.2 rpg.  Trent is a 45.4 percent three-point shooter.

G Alex O’Connell (6-foot-6, 171 pounds, Fr.): Averaging 4.6 ppg and 1.7 rpg.  O’Connell’s only start of the season came on Sunday against Georgia Tech.

F Wendell Carter, Jr. (6-foot-10, 259 pounds, Fr.): Averaging 14.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg.  Carter isn’t talked about as much as Bagley, but he’s got a bright future in basketball, and he’s currently projected as a lottery pick.

C Marques Bolden (6-foot-11, 246 pounds, So.): Averaging 1.5 ppg and 1.1 rpg.  Bolden has also started just one game this season, against Georgia Tech.

Bagley would bump Bolden out of the starting lineup if he is able to play.

Look for Trevon Duval (6-foot-3, 186 pounds, Fr.) to see plenty of minutes, whether it’s off the bench or in a starting role.  He is averaging 11.1 points per game, and he leads the team with 143 assists. 

Current projections indicate that as many as five Duke players could be selected in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft.  Using NBADraft.net as a guide, here are the current projections…

Bagley: No. 2 overall
Carter: No. 8 overall
Trent: No. 16 overall
Duvall: No. 24 overall
Allen: No. 25 overall

Duke has, for the moment at least, surpassed Kentucky as the top “one-and-done” destination in college basketball.  The Hokies will face the most talented team on their schedule tonight.

Here’s a look at how the Blue Devils have fared in the advanced stats…

Offensive Efficiency: No. 3
Effective Field Goal %: No. 16
Rebounding Rate: No. 6
Turnovers per Possession: No. 56
Defensive Efficiency: No. 74
Opponents Effective FG%: No. 24
Opponents Turnovers per Possession: No. 310

The Blue Devils are an elite offensive juggernaut.  With many future NBA players on the roster, Duke is an extremely difficult team to stop.  The Hokies have struggled defensively this season, with the exception of last week when they did nothing but practice defense in preparation for NC State and Virginia.  Still, Duke is a whole different animal offensively, and Tech will likely have to win a shootout if they want to emerge from Cameron Indoor Stadium with a victory.

A victory over Duke would take Tech to 19-7 overall and 8-5 in the ACC, and it would add another Quadrant One victory to the Hokies’ postseason resume.  However, a loss would not hurt Virginia Tech’s chances at all, and indeed their strength of schedule and possibly their RPI would even rise with a road loss to the Blue Devils.

This is the first of two meetings between Virginia Tech and Duke this year.  The Hokies will host the Blue Devils for Big Monday on Feb. 26.

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5 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The entire process of selecting teams for the NCAA tourney is a joke and has been as long as I have lived. Nothing new here – has always been biased.

  2. Shows how screwed up the RPI and selection process is that if we win it helps us greatly, but if we lose it still helps us….

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