The Duke Blue Devils will host the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday in a matchup between the two best teams in the ACC and two of the top four teams in the country. Both teams have national championship aspirations and this contrast of styles - Duke's up-tempo, offensive attack against Virginia's methodical, defensive approach - should make for an extremely exciting game. Who will come out with a major resume-boosting victory? Here's our full preview and prediction:
When: 2:00 p.m. EST
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC
Spread: Duke (-4.5)
Projected Starting Lineups
(2) Virginia Cavaliers (19-1, 8-0 in ACC)
G Ty Jerome (So.) – 9.3 ppg, 3.2 apg
G Kyle Guy (So.) – 15.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg
G Devon Hall (Sr.) – 12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg
F Isaiah Wilkins (Sr.) – 6.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg
C Jack Salt (Jr.) – 3.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg
(4) Duke Blue Devils (18-2, 6-2)
G Trevon Duval (Fr.) – 11.5 ppg, 6.0 apg
G Grayson Allen (Sr.) – 15.2 ppg, 4.4 apg
G Gary Trent Jr. (Fr.) – 14.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg
F Marvin Bagley III (Fr.) – 21.6 ppg, 11.5 rpg
F Wendell Carter Jr. (Fr.) – 14.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg
What they're saying about the Virginia Cavaliers:
Rauf Report: Virginia's defense needs to be talked about more (Chat Sports)
ACC Basketball POWER Rankings: Virginia Stays at the Top (Streaking The Lawn)
2018 Bracket Roundup: What has changed for the Hoos this week? (Streaking The Lawn)
What they're saying about the Duke Blue Devils:
Duke’s Allen and Bagley break down their upcoming game against Virginia (News & Observer)
ACC At A Glance (Duke Basketball Report)
All in with Coach K: Top 5 Showdown (GoDuke.com)
Keys to the game:
Strength vs. strength
Virginia is playing elite defense again this season and that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. They're on pace to finish with the best adjusted defensive efficiency rating since KenPom started recording that stat in 2002 and have the best scoring defense - 51.6 points allowed per game - this season by a wide margin (Cincinnati is second with 56.6 points allowed per game). However, they have yet to be tested like they will today against a Duke team that leads the country in points per game and is second in adjusted offensive efficiency. The showdown on that end of the court will be very intriguing and telling about both teams moving forward.
How big of a role will Cameron Indoor Stadium play?
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett is only 2-9 against Duke since taking the UVA job in 2009, and neither of those two wins has come at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The past three games between the two in Durham have all been close -within five points, as a matter of fact - but the Cavaliers haven't been able to make the plays they've needed to down the stretch. Will that Cameron magic continue for the Blue Devils, or will Bennett finally get over the hump?
Prediction: Duke wins 73-66
This one will be close throughout and I doubt we'll see a team pull away at any point in the game. However, in a game of this magnitude, the little things will make the biggest difference. Given Virginia's defensive dominance, getting second-chance points will be key for Duke. And, thanks to Duke's size with Bagley and Carter, they lead the country in offensive rebound rate. Those second-chance points will prove vital in a narrow win for the Blue Devils.