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ACC Bassketball Pick
Everyone might be a little overzealous on the term 'trap game', but this one warrants some attention. Duke is coming off two blowout wins after their loss at Maryland. On Saturday they get to face first-place Miami (FL), the team that beat them by 27 points earlier in the year. A week later, they get to travel to North Carolina.
While Mike Krzyzewski will have his boys ready, it's hard not to look two days later to the team that embarrassed the Blue Devils. Plus, it's not like Duke has been a model of consistency on the road this season. All three of their losses came on the road and they also have a couple that came down to the final minute at Wake Forest and Boston College.
It should also be mentioned that Virginia has yet to lose at home in ACC play. The Cavaliers have already beaten UNC, NC State and blown out every other team. All five of their conference losses have come on the road and you can't really fault them for that. They even won at Maryland earlier in the month, the same place Duke lost. Just last week, the Cavaliers took the Hurricanes down to the wire in Miami. Not many have been able to do that, especially not Duke.
What looks like a free win to the unsuspecting eye for No. 3 Duke, it might actually be just as difficult as their game two days later against Miami (FL).
For only averaging 65 points per game on the season, Virginia actually shoots the ball very well at 46.6%. They play a very slow and deliberate game which is why their scoring is down, but that's also why opponents don't score very much. In their past six games, the Cavaliers have actually been scoring 74 points per game which just shows if given the opportunity, they can score.
6'6" guard Joe Harris has been the main reason for the increased scoring. While he averages 16.6 points per game on the season, he is averaging almost 21 PPG in his last eight, hitting 20 points five times. His height causes mismatches on the outside and he shoots close to 50 percent from the field and 46 percent from behind the arc. Anyone will have trouble guarding that, including Duke's small-statured backcourt. The main problem for the Cavs against the Blue Devils will be in the frontcourt. They only have one player listed above 6'8" and he's only averaging 13.5 minutes per game. In fact, big man Mike Tobey just returned from a five-game absence due to mononucleosis. Now, he'll get the task of defending Mason Plumlee. Let's just say they're very lucky that Ryan Kelly isn't available. Outside of Harris in the scoring department, most of it will come from Akil Mitchell who averages 12.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Scoring will have to come from all over though in this game, much like it has in their recent stretch.
As for the Blue Devils, they haven't really had any problems in the scoring department, hitting 80 points in three straight games. Plumlee will likely put in another double-double, as he has four in his last five games. The only reason Maryland was able to beat this team a week ago was by getting Plumlee into foul trouble. Since Virginia doesn't really have anyone that can matchup with him, that's going to be a hard feat.
Seth Curry shouldn't have too much trouble finding his shot, but it will be interesting to see who Harris defends for the Cavaliers. It might end up being Rasheed Sulaimon who's averaging more than 18 points in his last four games and is coming off a 27-point performance on Sunday. The size of Harris will likely cause problems for anyone he is guarding.
With mismatches on both sides of the court, this game should end up being pretty close, much like a lot of Duke's road games this year. This will be Virginia's last chance of getting a win over a ranked team so they definitely won't be taking it lightly.
Predicted Score - Duke 63 Virginia 58
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