Virginia vs Duke Basketball Preview

Virginia vs Duke Basketball Preview

By Josh Burton

Coming off a big 72-68 win at Boston College, the University of Virginia Men’s Basketball team now sits at 21-8 (12-6 in ACC play) as they head into their penultimate game of the regular season. The Cavaliers are headed to Durham to take on #10 Duke this Saturday (3/2). This game is scheduled to tip at 6 pm EST and will air on ESPN.

About Duke

The Duke Blue Devils are led by Jon Scheyer, in his second season. This year, Duke is 22-6 (13-4 in ACC play). The Blue Devils are coming off an 84-59 victory over Louisville on Wednesday. 

Duke is a very talented team but doesn’t play with the full depth it is capable of.  Seven players average double-digit minutes,  however six of those players are over 25 minutes and five are over 28.5 minutes. This year's team is old relative to Duke teams of the last decade, as only two freshmen are entrenched within the rotation. They generally start out as follows:

G - Jeremy Roach (6’2” Senior) Averages 14.4 points and 3 assists per game while hitting 48% from three.

G - Jared McCain (6’3” Freshman) Averages 13.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while hitting 41.8% from three.

G - Tyrese Proctor (6’5” Sophomore) Averages 10.2 points and 3.7 assists per game.

F - Mark Mitchell (6’9” Sophomore) Averages 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

C - Kyle Filipowski (7’ Sophomore) Averages 16.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

As mentioned earlier, Duke has an entire roster of very talented players at their disposal and relies on the offensive abilities of their players to carry them.  The Blue Devils rank as a top 10 offense and a top 10 three-point shooting percentage team while also being a very good rebounding team which helps their defensive metrics. 

Matching Up

Duke offers one of the toughest matchups in the country because of the ability to score at all five positions. Roach is the unquestioned leader of this team and is having a very good senior season, I would expect Reece Beekman to start off matched with him but able to move around to blanket the other guards as necessary. McCain has also shown glimpses of an elite level scorer, particularly with his ability to shoot from outside. Expect Isaac McKneely to first draw the assignment here. 

After that, things begin to get very interesting based on which lineup the Wahoos choose to go with. Should the Hoos choose to go with their “big” lineup as they did on Wednesday, I would expect Ryan Dunn to begin by guarding Proctor, the biggest of their guards who is also a very capable playmaker.

From there in the frontcourt I would expect Jake Groves to begin on Mitchell while Jordan Minor gets the first crack at guarding the extremely versatile Filipowski. Last season, however, Dunn had success for stretches on him so I would not be surprised to see this matchup drawn as the Hoos sub to a smaller look. I would expect a multitude of different looks to be thrown at him though, as the preseason All-American will be a very tough cover.

Offensive Challenges

On the other end of the court, much of the season has been determined by whether the Cavaliers have been able to hit shots. The Wahoos have had more success when they’ve taken and knocked down three’s at a high clip. On Wednesday, both Isaac and Jake were able to connect on 3-6 attempts each from outside, with the team hitting at a crisp 38%. As the two premier shooters on this year's team, getting their looks and being able to convert them will be crucial.

This team is also doing a much better job of getting to the free throw line (and converting) in the past week, having converted 10+ attempts in each game. Being able to get to the line and convert can really help cover up the shooting woes that have plagued this squad at times this season so I believe they need to continue to make a conscious effort to attack whenever possible.

Next Up

After the primetime clash in Cameron, the Wahoos will have their midweek bye as they prepare for the final game of the season. A Senior Day matchup with Georgia Tech next Saturday (3/9). This one is set to air on the ACC Network and will tip at 8 pm. As always, Locker Room Access will have full coverage!

(Featured Image Credit: Getty) 

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