No. 5 Duke (24-5, 12-4 ACC) at Virginia Tech (20-9, 9-7)
Time: 7 p.m.
Virginia Tech vs. Duke Preview:
- Tonight’s Game is Sold Out
- Tonight’s Game is Maroon Out
- It’s Senior Night for Devin Wilson, Justin Bibbs, and two team managers; program starts about 6:45
- Red Panda will perform at half time, and ten students will take ten halfcourt shots worth $10,000 each
- Download the Hokie Lights app to participate in a pre-game light show
Virginia Tech hosts Duke in a big ACC matchup in Cassell Coliseum on Monday night. The Blue Devils come into the game on a hot streak, winning five in a row, and now they have Marvin Bagley III back in the lineup. His presences makes them even more formidable.
Duke was reeling a bit when they lost back-to-back games to St. John’s (81-77) and North Carolina (82-78). The issue with those games was defense, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski has seemingly fixed the problem since those two losses. The Blue Devils have been dominant on the defensive end over their last five games. Check out the following scores…
80-69 at Georgia Tech
74-52 vs. Virginia Tech
66-57 at Clemson
82-56 vs. Louisville
60-44 vs. Syracuse
That’s an average of 55.6 points per game. Only Virginia is playing defense as well as the Blue Devils right now in the ACC. They seemed better defensively without Bagley in the lineup, until Saturday night when they had their most impressive defensive performance of the season against Syracuse with Bagley on the court for 31 minutes.
With or without Bagley on the court, Duke is the most talented team on Virginia Tech’s schedule this season, with five potential first round picks this summer. As a comparison, the Hokies have only had one first round pick in the history of the program, and only eight total players picked in the first two rounds. Here are NBADraft.net’s current projections for Duke…
Marvin Bagley III (6-foot-11, 234 pounds, Fr.): No. 4 overall
Wendell Carter (6-foot-10, 259 pounds, Fr.): No. 7 overall
Gary Trent, Jr (6-foot-6, 209 pounds, Fr.).: No. 15 overall
Trevon Duvall (6-foot-3, 186 pounds, Fr.): No. 21 overall
Grayson Allen (6-foot-5, 205 pounds, Sr.): No. 22 overall
It’s possible that all five players in Duke’s starting lineup will be playing in the NBA at this time next season. This team is good enough to play their way into a No. 1 seed down the stretch, particularly with an ACC schedule backing up their resume.
This will be Virginia Tech’s second Big Monday game of the year. The first was an 80-69 victory over then-No. 10 North Carolina. The Hokies had just lost to Florida State at home two days before knocking off UNC, so there are some similarities, since Tech just lost at home on Saturday to Louisville. A quick turnaround game forces a team to get over a loss very quickly. Duke played on Saturday night and has to travel to Blacksburg, so Virginia Tech will have an advantage when it comes to preparation time.
They could also have the emotional edge. Justin Bibbs and Devin Wilson will be playing their final game in Cassell Coliseum. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils know they already beat the Hokies by 22 points, and they could be looking ahead to Saturday’s huge season-ending matchup in Durham with North Carolina.
Even with the emotional edge, the Hokies will have to out-execute the Blue Devils to come away with the win. That will be tough, as Duke has lots of talent and lots of length. Here’s how they rank in the key categories…
Offensive Efficiency: No. 3
Effective FG%: No. 19
Rebounding Rate: No. 4
Turnovers per Possession: No. 76
Defensive Efficiency: No. 35
Opp. Effective FG%: No. 11
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: No. 275
The Blue Devils don’t force a lot of turnovers, but they are very good at everything else. They also appear to be peaking at the right time. When it’s all said and done, the team that visits Cassell Coliseum tonight could end up being the best team in the country. They are legitimate national title contenders, and the only thing that could potentially hold them back is their relative inexperience.
Duke defeated Virginia Tech 74-52 back on Feb. 14. That was a single-digit game as late as the 15-minute mark of the second half. Justin Robinson’s early second half foul trouble did the Hokies no favors, and a big Blue Devil run propelled them to the win. The Hokies lost by 26 points to Virginia early in the season, but rebounded to defeat the Hoos in the second meeting in a nationally televised game on ESPN. They’ll be hoping to pull off another such turnaround on Monday night.