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Next Up For Duke Basketball - Virginia Tech

It seems like a no-brainer to pick Duke, but when you think a team has no chance to win is precisely when it does.

Amile Jefferson could turn out to be a major key for Duke at Virginia Tech.
Amile Jefferson could turn out to be a major key for Duke at Virginia Tech.
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

We've been telling people for most of the season that things are about to change in a major way for Virginia Tech. Buzz Williams is laying the groundwork for an outstanding team. He's adding four guys next year who may all start and who at the least will provide a great deal more depth. Virginia Tech fans should be excited and we'd recommend getting our tickets while you can.

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That's next year. This year's team has two defining characteristics: it has minimal depth and talent but a huge heart.

It has a potentially very large problem Wednesday night in Jahlil Okafor.

Duke's sensational freshman is a matchup nightmare for Virginia Tech. Skill aside, Okafor is 6-11 and 270.

The Hokies have Satchel Pierce, a 7-0, 255 lb. freshman, but even on a roster limited in size and talent, he only manages 13 minutes a game and about two points and two rebounds.

That's assuming he plays.

Even if he doesn't, Duke has Justise Winslow, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee and Matt Jones, who has increasingly been playing in the frontcourt.

And in the backcourt, there's Quinn Cook, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen.

Cook and Jones have emerged as one of the very best backcourts in the country, while Allen, since the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon, has become increasingly valuable. He jumps well enough to have alley-oop plays run for him, has made spectacular defensive plays and in general has been a wonderful late development for Duke.

That leaves out his three point shooting, which we haven't seen a lot of but it's a known quantity.

It's a tough dilemma for the Hokies. If Okafor goes, you have to pay extraordinary attention to him, and he's a brilliant offensive performer. 

Double him, though, and you expose yourself to multiple three point shooters (Cook, Jones, Winslow, Jones and Allen) and penetrators (Winslow, Cook and Tyus Jones). You surrender easy shots to his highly intelligent sidekick, Jefferson.

The thing we've come to respect about the Hokies though is that this team really has enormous heart, and you can never underestimate that - much less the value of having that sort of heart in front of a crowd which will turn out for the Duke game.

Duke will be favored, obviously, but while you can figure odds and set lines and so forth, those things really can't factor in heart and courage.

In other words, like most Duke fans, we expect Duke will win. Unlike a lot of you though, we're not going to assume an upset is impossible.  It simply never is.