Duke vs. Virginia Prediction, Game Preview

    Duke vs. Virginia prediction and game preview. The Blue Devils look to win their sixth straight game, while the Cavaliers are looking to finish the ACC season strong after losing three of their last five contests.

    February 15, 2017

    Duke vs. Virginia prediction and game preview. The Blue Devils look to win their sixth straight game, while the Cavaliers are looking to finish the ACC season strong after losing three of their last five contests.

    Duke vs. Virginia Game Preview

    When: Wednesday, Feb. 15 – 9 p.m. ET
    Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
    TV Broadcast: ESPN2

    Mike Krzyzewski and the No. 12 Duke Blue Devils (20-5, 8-4 ACC) are on a five-game win streak, but they had their problems with Clemson last Saturday in Durham. Luke Kennard scored 25 points, and Matt Jones played sound defense in a 64-62 win. The game came less than 48 hours after the Blue Devils’ emotional victory over North Carolina the previous Thursday. Coach K’s team blew a 14-point lead in the second half but made a stop at the buzzer to seal the win. The Blue Devils have three Top 25 matchups looming out of their remaining six games in the regular season.

    Meanwhile, Tony Bennett and the No. 14 Cavaliers (18-6, 8-4) are having their share of problems keeping leads and ultimately closing out tight games, which is what happened when they blew a 15-point lead in the final 9:32 against Syracuse in last year’s NCAA Tournament. UVA fell on the road to in-state rival Virginia Tech, 80-78, on Sunday night when Seth Allen hit a jumper in the lane with 3.2 seconds left in the second overtime. It was just the second win for the Hokies in the rivalry in the last 11 meetings. It was the third heartbreaking loss that the Cavs have suffered recently, as recent setbacks included being on the wrong end of a tip-in at the buzzer against Villanova and falling in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. The Cavaliers had controlled all three games but came out with losses.

    The last time these teams met, Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen hit a shot in the lane for a buzzer-beating 63-62 win. Bennett is 2-8 against Krzyzewski in his eight seasons with the Cavaliers.

    Duke Wins If …

    … The Blue Devils remain active offensively. The only way to navigate through Virginia’s defense is to move the basketball around and be aggressive, and the Blue Devils may have the right kind of player to make things happen. Sophomore guard Kennard not only is deadly from the outside, but he has the driving ability that could pose problems for a Virginia team that was susceptible to VT’s penetration last Sunday evening.

    Look out for Allen on the outside if Kennard doesn’t have room to finish at the rim. Kennard is a very good passer, so Virginia will have to be ready for potential kickout-three opportunities to Allen.

    Virginia Wins If …

    … The Cavaliers defend well, plain and simple. Over the next four days, Virginia will play Duke and then travel to No. 10 North Carolina, which is a brutal stretch for a team that has dealt with tough losses over the last couple of weeks. The Blue Devils rank No. 3 in the conference in scoring at 81.9 points per game, with Kennard averaging 20 points per contest, so defending well is imperative. Bennett’s squad leads the nation in scoring defense at 55.1 points per game, and it’s helped by a methodical offense that helps control the tempo of the game.

    Because Duke should expect to see less possessions than usual, which is what Virginia’s opponents typically face, each possession will be more critical. Virginia is the worst rebounding team in the ACC, so the Cavs can’t get killed on the boards and give the Blue Devils too many second-chance opportunities.

    Matchup To Watch

    Duke’s rebounding vs. Virginia’s rebounding

    In last year’s meeting, Duke big man Brandon Ingram put the team on his back in rallying from an 11-point deficit. Not only did he rattle off 18 consecutive points for his team, but he helped Duke outrebound the Cavaliers, 24-10, in the second half. Amile Jefferson (9.1 rebounds per game) and Jayson Tatum (7.0 rebounds per contest) are Duke’s leading rebounders, so second-chance points could be a critical stat in what should be a close game. As mentioned above, rebounding is a weakness for UVA.

    Betting Odds

    Spread: Virginia -5
    Over/Under: 131.5

    Duke vs. Virginia Prediction

    The Cavaliers have dropped just two conference homes games over the past three seasons (to Florida State this season and to Duke in 2014-15). How many more close losses can this team take? Home cooking is the difference in this one, as Allen’s hot streak comes to a halt against a tough defense. Cavs senior guard London Perrantes, who needed a career-high 22 shots to reach the 22-point mark against the Hokies, will be the best player on the floor despite being keyed on all game long.

    Duke vs. Virginia final score prediction: Virginia 65, Duke 61

    MORE: UNC vs. NC State Prediction, Game Preview


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