College Basketball Pick
Duke is in an important stretch of basketball having to face Four straight ranked teams. This is its second Game of the stretch after having beaten Louisville on Monday. The Blue Devils are all but out of the chase for the ACC regular season title, but still is going to be a team to reckon with in the postseason once Amile Jefferson returns.
Virginia hit a rough patch a few weeks ago, losing three of Four ACC Games against mediocre competition on the road, but the Cavaliers have figured things out and have now won seven straight Games, including multiple ones on the road. As usual, their defense has been dominant, holding teams regularly to 50 or fewer points in recent wins.
There isn’t much to go off of for recent meetings between these teams as they have split the last Four over the last three years. But each of those Games has been fairly close and that’s expected to be the case here.
The Blue Devils still aren’t the same type of team without Jefferson on the floor and that will remain true until he returns. However, they came up big against Louisville on Monday and need to win this one before going on the road to UNC and Louisville.
The lack of depth seems to shine in every one of Duke’s losses as they’ve only really been using six players. That may not be an issue against Virginia, as they like to slow it down more than most teams. But if Grayson Allen or Brandon Ingram isn’t draining threes, this team tends to struggle. Their presence in the paint is limited to mainly Marshall Plumlee, who is averaging just above eight points per Game. Ingram is still mostly a perimeter player, although his size can give mismatches all over the cOurt. And outside of those guys, they need Allen to have a big Game or Matt Jones and LUke Kennard to come through from three-point range.
That’s not the best way to attack this Virginia defense that is once again one of the best in the country. The Cavs have size and length to deal with most teams and that’s going to be an issue for Duke in this Game. Plumlee probably won’t be able to do much down low, while Isaiah Wilkins has the size and ability to deal with Ingram on the perimeter. Duke’s backcOurt usually has a size advantage, but Virginia won’t have a problem with that and Allen could have a tough go of things against them. If that’s the case, the Blue Devils could be in trouble and in line for another home loss.
The other end will maybe be more important. Duke does not have a great defense and mixes in a zone at times. That probably won’t work against Virginia. If Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes can do their thing, that may be enough. Virginia has an efficient offense, but due to its slow nature, doesn’t Scoreall that much. This is the type of Game that the Cavs will need other guys to step up in, namely big men Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey.
Duke still hasn’t beaten many good teams this year and with the way Virginia is playing, it’s going to be hard for them to knock off the Cavaliers. Usually playing at Cameron Indoor would be another level to get through, but the Blue Devils have lost multiple Games this year already. Still, Duke gets the edge at home, this one may be a little tougher than Louisville was, though.
Check back for a Score Prediction on Game day