Next up for Duke is Virginia Tech, and this version of the Hokies may be Seth Greenberg's favorite as it most perfectly reflects his personality: aggressive, defensive, and resilient.
Virginia Tech comes into this game as one of three teams which has a realistic shot at finishing in first: along with Maryland, the Hokies have just three losses, and Duke has just two.
It's a pretty critical game for Tech in more than just the obvious. With a terribly weak non-conference schedule, a win over Duke at Duke would give them a lot of credibility. Don't get us wrong, they should make the field, but this win would help them a lot in terms of seeding and credibility.
But all that aside, Tech has done a lot to establish their credibility, and they have Malcolm Delaney to thank for most of it.
The 6-3 junior has been sensational this year. And while most of the talk of Player Of The Year has centered around Jon Scheyer and Greivis Vasquez, you could make a case for Delaney as well. He's averaging 20.2 ppg and plays with a certain swagger that's a bit reminiscent of...well, who else but Randolph Childress?
Delaney is a very, very tough-minded player and should be taken very seriously by everyone involved.
He's part of what's turned out to be a very solid junior class.
Terrell Bell (6-6) and Dorenzo Hudson (6-5) have both had times this year when they've been impossible to contain. And while 6-7 Jeff Allen has had some real ups-and-downs in his career, mostly because of his periodic difficulty controlling his emotions. J.T Thompson (6-6) has also been a useful player.
The only sophomore, Victor Davila, is less nimble than Allen but a solid inside presence.
Of the six freshmen, Erick Green is getting the most minutes. The rest are developing and go through the usual freshmen things.
So what to expect? Well, whenever Tech plays Duke, they do it with a certain passion, don't they? They might fall short against Miami, but Duke will get maximum effort.
Delaney is a potential matchup problem, as are Hudson, Allen, and Bell. But that cuts both ways: Kyle Singler is tough for most teams, Jon Scheyer is a slippery presence, and lately Brian Zoubek has been channeling the G-man or something. You certainly can't look past him. But if you do, you see the Plumlees, and they're no day at the beach either.
A wild card in this game is Lance Thomas. Duke's premier and most versatile defender, he's playing through a painful bone bruise. He'll be key in this game because he can guard just about anyone in their frontcourt.
You can also reliably count on a physical game from Tech. It's just part of their style.
But there usually things you can count on with Duke as well. It's a big game, and a win would put Duke in control of the conference race. Duke usually responds pretty well to big games, particularly at home.
And we won't be at all surprised to see a stellar defensive effort from Nolan Smith, who will get the primary responsibility for Delaney.
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