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Virginia Tech at Duke Preview and Prediction

Basketball Team 1 VT Duke 2023 ES

On Saturday, the Virginia Tech Hokies (16-12, 6-11 ACC) Men’s basketball team will head into the tough and chaotic atmosphere that is Cameron Indoor Stadium where the Duke Blue Devils (20-8, 11-6 ACC) and their Cameron Crazies await. For any team in college basketball, Cameron represents a true test.

This season alone, the Blue Devils are 14-0 at home. Both the Hokies and Duke love their home court advantage so much that the last 10 meetings between the two teams are a 5-5 split.

Player Spotlights

Grant Basile has had an amazing month of February for the Hokies. He has averaged 22.6 points per game on 57.4% shooting (41.6% from 3) while on the defensive end, he's averaging 1.3 blocks per game. Basile does well to stretch the floor for the Hokies. He has the ability to hit the open three-point shot off the pick-and-pop, or he can drive the ball to the rim and find his shot with his back to the basket with the special display of post moves he has in his bag.

On top of Basile’s recent play, the Hokies will need the recent play of Justyn Mutts (12.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6 assists per game in his last three) to come out on top against Duke. He is a great facilitator on offense for the Hokies, and has been all year. The ball moves on offense a lot better for the Hokies when he touches the ball in their half-court sets.

For the Blue Devils, their leading scorer and star is Kyle Filipowski. The 7’0” 230-pound freshman PF was lights out for the Blue Devils last time out. He had 29 points on 9 of 17 shooting from the field (4-8 from three, 7 of 9 from the line) and 10 rebounds. On the season, the freshman is averaging 15.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, earning him a spot on the Wooden Award Watch List. He recently earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors for the eighth time this season.

Another player to watch for on Duke is junior guard Jeremy Roach. He has spent time coming off the bench and in the starting lineup this season, but he has remained one of Duke’s top scorers and playmakers. Roach shows an innate ability to create his shot off the dribble and get to the rim. He only had 6 points last time out against the Hokies, but he’s averaged 14.9 points per game since.

In order to win in Cameron, the Hokies will have to keep to these keys for success:

Get to Your Spots, Hit Your Shots

The Hokies outshot Duke to win their last meeting, and they will likely have to do the same thing this time around to come out of Cameron with a victory. In their first meeting this season, the Hokies shot 57.1% from the field and 52.6% from three. This team can live and die by the three, which can be dangerous business. However, they have the sharpshooters to participate, and one of them is Hunter Cattoor who is first in the league in 3FG% at 43.8%.

Their matchup is with a Duke team that is 2nd in the ACC in opponent three-point field-goal percentage, holding their opponents to just 30.7%. In their losses this year, the Hokies have shot just 30% from three, well below their season average of 35.4% (8th in the ACC). Duke does not shoot it as well from three (33.4%), and I think the Hokies have the advantage here if they can get and stay hot from downtown.


Do Not Let Filipowski Beat You

At times this season, the Hokies have struggled to contain their opponent’s star players (I’m thinking of you, Terquavion Smith and Isaiah Wong). Last time out against Duke, the Hokies struggled to contain Filipowski. Although he shoots only 29% from beyond the arc, Filipowski can knock down the open shot when given the chance and he made the Hokies pay for not closing out on him.

Where he thrives the most is down low on the block, or out on the wing one-on-one with his defender. Filipowski can shoot over the outstretched arms of his defenders, and he has a post game he can go to as well to get to the rim or hit a tough fadeaway.

I am sure Mike Young has a game plan to stop Filipowski and make the other Blue Devils beat them. After watching a bit of the tape from their game against UVA (and even the few times the Hokies had success in stopping Filipowski in their first meeting), the defense needs to look to deny him the ball early.

The Hokies also cannot get caught ball-watching, because Filipowski will crash the offensive glass (2.7 offensive rebounds per game), and he can utilize the pick-and-pop to set up an open shot for himself. When he is isolated with a defender in the post, bring a help defender over quickly to double team Filipowski, which will lead to either him giving the ball up or maybe even a costly turnover.

Crash the Offensive Glass

The Hokies have struggled all year in terms of offensive rebounding (8.5 offensive rebounds per game). On the flip side, Duke is first in the conference (12.9 orpg).

In their last meeting, the Hokies were in the ballpark with Duke only being down 9 to 5 on the offensive glass doing well to limit Duke's second chance opportunities while holding the Blue Devils to only 11 second chance points.

They have to do the same tonight in order to keep the Blue Devils from generating too many second-chance opportunities. The Hokies will also need to capitalize on their own chances, and find an open Cattoor or MJ Collins on the kick out for three, or get an easy bucket at the rim.

Prediction: Duke 77, Virginia Tech 67

Tech has only won once at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and I have a tough time seeing it happen again this time around. I am not sure they have anyone that can stop Kyle Filipowski one-on-one, and if they don’t double in time, that could prove costly for the Hokies.

Outside of Filipowski, all five of the Blue Devils starters (and don’t forget about Dariq Whitehead off the bench) have the ability to go for double-figures. The Hokies will need offensive production from all five of their starters. Missed shots and costly turnovers can fire up the Cameron Crazies quickly, and before you know it, the game is out of hand.

More Stats Just for Kicks: Turnovers

Duke is 14th in the conference with a negative turnover margin of -1.04. They average 12.5 turnovers a game. Meanwhile, the Hokies average 10.1 turnovers a game, and are 5th in the ACC with a positive 1.0 turnover margin. Definitely an area to keep an eye on if the Hokies are to pull the upset off this evening.

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