ACC Basketball

The Blue Devils Looking to Keep Rolling in Blacksburg

(Getty Images)

HOW WE GOT HERE: 
The Duke Blue Devils have won seven straight and sit a half-game back for second place in the ACC. Playing without Jahlil Okafor, the Blue Devils steamrolled the Clemson Tigers, 80-66 behind 27 points from senior Quinn Cook. The Virginia Tech Hokies are just 2-12 in ACC play, just holding off 1-13 Boston College in the battle for last They’ve dropped three straight by an average margin of just under 21 points per game.

FIVE DEEP THOUGHTS

  • As I pointed out above, the Hokies have struggled to stay competitive, getting blown out in their last three. However, all three of those games were on the road. At home, they can be a bit more competitive. In fact, they’ve won two of three at home, beating Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh (in overtime). They also led Virginia 43-36 with 10 minutes to go back on January 25, before the Cavaliers outscored the Hokies 14-4 to end the game.
  • No word yet if Jahlil Okafor will play Wednesday night (my guess is yes, but it’s truly only a guess). An argument to keep him out is, why risk him against such an inferior foe? The Blue Devils time and again have proven they can play without their big man, often expending leads with the freshmen on the bench. The Blue Devils have recently done their damage by pushing the action, running up the court coming off both missed and made shots, led by their pair of point guards, Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook.
  • Since getting healthy, Justise Winslow has been in beast mode, scoring in double figures in eight straight games. More recently he’s been asked to play the four. Despite being undersized at power forward, he’s rebounded at a high rate, grabbing 13 boards against Clemson. When he attacks the rim, if he turns the corner, he’s scary in the lane. However, there is one flaw in his game. When he drives, he never passes. If you have shot blockers and see Winslow attack, you get commit to him, as long as someone slides in and blocks out Okfor. Of course the problem with Virginia Tech is they don’t have shot blockers.
  • The main issue Virginia Tech has is the simply fact they have no size. Christian Beyer and Shane Henry rotate the five spot, but both are extremely undersized and both would get crushed by Okafor in a one-on-one situation (which won’t happen). The Hokies typically rotate zone and man, but don’t be surprised if they roll zone out for most of the game against Duke. Again if Okafor is in, he’s too good of a passer out of the post and they can’t leave Duke shooters open.
  • The Hokies do play four guards and they like to shoot up threes. Behind senior Adam Smith, along with young fellas Justin Bibbs, Malik Mueller and Devin Wilson, Virginia Tech has put up the third most three-point shots in the ACC and are third in 3P%, according to Ken Pom. While Quinn Cook has become a lock-down defender lately, the Blue Devils have been vulnerable from three, ranked just 10th in 3P%.

FINAL THOUGHT: 
The crowd should be a good one in Blacksburg, as this is there final chance to storm the court before the Hokies’ season is over. Virginia Tech will keep it close for about 10 minutes, but with Cook shutting down Adam Smith and Okafor (assuming he’s playing) dominating on the glass and around the rim, this should turn into another blowout.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Duke, 80-62

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