Duke and Virginia will meet Saturday in a clash between the ACC’s top-ranked teams. With the Blue Devils ranked No. 1 in the AP poll and the Cavaliers No. 1 in the Coaches poll, the game is just the fourth No. 1 vs. No. 1 in NCAA history. The last time these two teams played, nearly a year ago, UVA defeated Duke 65-63. Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup.
- Duke and Virginia are the only teams in the top five in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency.
- The game marks Duke’s sixth versus an AP top 15 opponent — the most nationally this season, and the Blue Devils are 4-1 in those games. The first five were played away from home.
- Saturday’s game marks the second consecutive season, and third in the all-time series, that Duke and Virginia are meeting with each team ranked in the AP top five.
- Duke leads the all-time series, 119-51, and has won three of the last four
What to Watch For:
Duke suffered a big blow when Tre Jones went down in Monday night’s loss to Syracuse with a shoulder injury. His absence, along with Cam Reddish’s (who was made unavailable right before tipoff due to illness), understandably caught the Blue Devils off guard. The question now is, how will they respond after having four days to prepare for one of the toughest opponents they’ve faced this season without their facilitator and best on-the-ball defender. Captain’s Jack White and Javin DeLaurier say the team is ready for the challenge.
“They are a very good team and one of the best teams in the country,” DeLaurier said ahead of Saturday’s matchup. “But our outlook on it is the same. Go win the game and come ready to fight and defend Cameron [Indoor Stadium]. Obviously not having Tre hurts a little bit but guys have to step up and we are excited for the opportunity.”
“You’ve got to be poised and strong and trust Coach,” Jack White added. “Coach has the game plan for us and we are looking forward to the challenge as they are a great team, one of the best in the country and obviously undefeated so it is going to be a big game for us and a big game for us to prove ourselves and prove our maturity. But we just have to be us and at the end of the day we can’t shy away from who we are. We have to stick to our strengths and trust in one another and believe in coach and go out there and play hard.”
The Cavaliers like to slow the ball down and so far this season they’ve been able to dictate the speed of play against their opponents. Virginia has had one game with a pace higher than 71. Duke has had zero games with a pace lower than 71. The Blue Devils will naturally want to push the tempo, get out in transition and run the Cavaliers out of the gym, but it will be tough against a veteran UVA team. The squad that is able to impose themselves and control the pace will walk away with a big win.
Players to Watch:
Jack White has been the x-factor for the Blue Devils this season. In the Syracuse loss the junior forward went 0-10 from the field. He’s due for a big game. Duke needs him to have a big game and he knows it.
The Cameron Crazies haven’t forgotten about UVA’s historic upset in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and although plans to bring UMBC’s KJ Maura to the game were foiled, that doesn’t mean one of the toughest crowds in college basketball won’t be ready with chants and signs. Cavaliers’ guard Kyle Guy has embraced the trolling – calling it a source of motivation. His play will be key tomorrow for UVA.
How to Watch:
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman/Jay Bilas/Maria Taylor)
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network (David Shumate/John Roth)
Sirius/XM: 94 / 193 (Duke broadcast)