The 8th ranked Virginia Cavaliers, now tied for first place in the ACC, will host the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM Eastern at John Paul Jones Arena, televised on ESPN with Dick Vitale on the call.
Under first-year Head Coach Jon Scheyer, it’s the same roster formula we’ve gotten used to from the Blue Devils. They have another group of prized freshmen, most of which expect to have short college careers. There’s only three upperclassmen in the rotation, two of them newcomers via the transfer portal.
Duke enters with a 17-7 overall record, currently in 6th place in the conference standings at 8-5. They’re looking to bounce back from an ugly 81-59 loss at Miami on Monday. No doubt, we’ll see a determined Blue Devils squad this weekend. The NCAA NET formula has them ranked 29th, making this barely a Quad-1 game for the Hoos at home.
The Blue Devils are led by junior point guard Jeremy Roach (12.5 PPG), a three-year starter. In more of a scoring role this year, he takes and makes the most three-pointers on the team. His backcourt mate is Tyrese Proctor (8.7 PPG), a freshman from Australia. He’s had an up and down year, only shooting 28% from three, but is a very capable scorer.
They start a five-star trio of freshmen up front. Skilled 7-footer Kyle Filipowski (15.5 PPG) is a matchup problem for everybody. His ability to create off-the-bounce at his size makes him especially hard to defend. 7-1 center Dereck Lively (4.7 PPG) is averaging five blocked shots per game since being reinserted into the starting lineup. And the versatility of 6-8 forward Mark Mitchell (8.8 PPG) is what makes their jumbo lineup work.
Freshman wing Dariq Whitehead (8.4 PPG) has missed the last couple weeks with an injury. He might be back on Saturday. Northwestern transfer big man Ryan Young (8.0 PPG) has seen his playing time decrease due to the emergence of Lively. And Illinois transfer guard Jacob Grandison (4.8 PPG) gives them a nice veteran backcourt piece off the bench.
Duke’s big lineup is unorthodox in today’s game. You don’t see two 7-footers together like that anymore. But their frontline is athletic enough that it works. They’ve been good defensively, especially with the recent emergence of Dereck Lively. Regardless of how Bennett plays it, Duke will have a size advantage and that creates mismatches for both teams to exploit.
Virginia center Kadin Shedrick played a big role in Tuesday’s win over NC State. He figures to be important on Saturday as well. There’s probably not going to be a lot of small-ball for the Hoos in this one. Bennett will surely still pick his spots for it, particularly when Lively isn’t on the floor. But this should be another opportunity for Shedrick, and maybe Francisco Caffaro too.
Battle on the Glass
Second chances are a huge part of Duke’s offense. They have the fifth best offensive rebounding rate in the country. Obviously, their size advantage is a big reason for that. And while Virginia has been better at limiting opponents to one shot lately, it’s been a problem at times this year.
This is probably the most important statistical category of the game. Duke’s work on the offensive glass has bailed them out of poor shooting performances multiple times this year in key games. It’ll take a focused team effort from the Hoos, guards included, to limit Duke’s second chance points.
Tale of the Arc
Duke is not a great three-point shooting team, 32.6% on the season. That number ticks up to 34.1% in conference play. They have some streaky shooters though. Filipowski and Proctor for example are both under 30% on the season, but have shown they can get hot game-to-game.
Three-point shooting is always a key stat in today’s game, but it seems to be especially true with this Duke team. When they shoot at least 35% from behind the arc, they’re 10-1 against high-major opponents. Anything less, they’re 2-6.
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