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Can No. 4 Virginia Tech Put Another Scare Into No. 1 Duke and Advance to Elite Eight?

The No. 1 Duke Blue Devils almost saw their title hopes go up in flames in their second-round matchup vs UCF but after squeaking out a last-minute win, they now face an ACC rival in the No. 4 Virginia Tech Hokies. The Hokies advanced easily from the first weekend after handling Saint Louis and Liberty and beat the Blue Devils during the regular season. However, Duke was without star freshman Zion Williamson and it’s safe to say the Blue Devils are a very different team with him in the lineup.

Duke opened as a 7-point favorite with a total of 144.

Virginia Tech vs Duke Game Center

STANDOUT STATS

  • Zion Williamson was nearly unstoppable for the first two games of the NCAA Tournament. He shot 24-for-36 from the field and 4-for-9 from three-point range (57 points) and his late-game heroics vs UCF were integral in Duke advancing to the Sweet 16.
  • Virginia Tech beat Duke 77-72 on the Hokies’ home floor during conference play prior to the ACC tournament. However, Zion Williamson did not suit up for that game – Duke is 28-2 SU this season with Williamson in the lineup.
  • Something will have to give for perimeter shooting between these teams as Virginia Tech is ranked ninth in the NCAA in three-point shooting efficiency (39.5 percent) this season but Duke is excellent at limiting opponents from behind the arc, ranking 13th in the nation at 29.8 percent.
  • Duke owns the rebounding edge vs Virginia Tech this season as the Blue Devils rank second in rebounds per game at 41.5 while the Hokies ranked 294th in the NCAA at 32.5 rebounds per game. Duke also owns a +6.1 rebounding differential vs opponents this year.
  • Duke hasn’t done itself any favors in hitting the long ball, ranking 329th out of 353 D-1 schools in three-point shooting (30.7 percent), but it has managed to increase that average to 34.5 percent over the last three games on 19.3 attempts.
  • Duke has been one of the best UNDER teams in the NCAA this season with 25 of its 36 games falling short of the total. However, in six games when the closing total was set at 145 or less, the OVER hit in five of them, including the last game vs UCF that closed at 142.5.

My Best Bets for Virginia Tech vs Duke

OVER 144 and Duke -7

I think after Duke got that one scare out of the way that every national title contender goes through, that only makes the Blue Devils more dangerous. UCF had a matchup that it exploited repeatedly against Duke’s frontline in Tacko Fall and while I think Virginia Tech has some decent players, it doesn’t have any seven-foot-six centers.

Virginia Tech is going to have issues shooting the three-ball because Duke’s perimeter defense is among the best in the nation and they clamp down on teams that rely too much on outside shooting. Virginia Tech only beat Duke by five points with Zion out of the lineup and he floats all boats when he’s on the floor. His presence opens up space for RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish to create offense and be more effective, so I think Duke rolls to the Elite Eight.

I also think that the OVER is the best way to bet the total because one of the main reasons why Duke has been a great UNDER team is how inflated the totals have been. They’ve routinely been at 155 or higher but in six games this season when it’s set at 145 or lower, the OVER has hit in five of them.

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