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Next Up - Virginia & Dariq Whitehead Will Play

This one won’t be easy.

Florida State v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 31: Dariq Whitehead #0 of the Duke Blue Devils takes a three-point shot against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 86-67.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Date || 2/11 || Time 4:00 PM || Venue || John Paul Jones Arena || Video || ESPN

Update -Duke basketball’s Dariq Whitehead cleared to play against Virginia

Duke fans may not be entirely aware of this, but Virginia fans are pretty sick of the Blue Devils.

Tony Bennett has had a brilliant run at Virginia but the one ACC school he has struggled with has been Duke. He’s had his fair share of success of course, but Duke has done better against Virginia than most ACC teams, if not all.

And it’s not easy to deal with Virginia.

The focus is always on Virginia’s deliberate offense, which makes it harder to recognize other key aspects of what UVA does. There are three things that no one should ever overlook.

First, the defense is brutal. We don’t mean physical, though it certainly is. But it’s brutal to deal with. It exhausts you.

Second, the offense is deliberate, true. It is also precise. Virginia usually gets what it is after.

And third, when the game is on the line, and that defense has worn you out and made you mistake prone...they’re not.

And the precision is still there, too. Virginia is a very, very tough out.

For Duke, that may be more true this season than ever before.

A young Duke team has struggled mightily on the road, most notably at NC State and Miami, where both teams essentially decapitated Duke early and toyed with them for the rest of those games.

Virginia could be like that. As we all know, the defense is relentless and forces you into mistakes. We’ve seen opponents so frustrated they look like they’re about to cry.

Virginia even did it to Rick Pitino. It was amazing to see his glum face during a Louisville-Virginia game. The man had no idea what to do.

So what should we expect from a young Duke team, coming off of that ugly loss to Miami?

Obviously we’d love to win at Virginia, but what we really hope we see is fight.

We want Duke to play harder than Virginia. We want the Blue Devils to really come after them.

It’s a tall order for a young team, and this Virginia team is playing very well.

The backcourt is a real load. Kihei Clark has been at Virginia for at least 100 years (okay, more like five). Reece Beekman has become an elite, superb defender who is almost certainly going to have a future in the NBA. Armaan Franklin has done very well since leaving Indiana for Charlottesville.

The front court has been less certain.

Kadin Shedrick started for much of the season but lately has been coming off the bench. Jayden Gardner and Ben Vander Plas have been the other starters.

Both transferred in. Gardner started at ECU and Vander Plas at Ohio.

Gardner is 6-6 and 230 and strong enough to bang inside. Vander Plas can step outside and at times - not always, but at times - he looks like an NBA player. He can shoot the three or play inside. At his best, he’s extremely dangerous.

Small fact if you didn’t know: Ben Vander Plas’ full first name is Bennett and his father named him that for Coach Bennett’s father, Dick.

The ‘Hoos have a fairly small rotation. Isaac McKneely, a three point ace, gets about 21.4 mpg. Ryan Dunn plays about 12.6.

Taine Murray and Francisco Caffaro get 7.8 and 7.2 mpg.

For Duke, the issue is simple. They have to grow up and fight. They can’t be tentative and weak. They have to come at Virginia.

The Blue Devils have a significant advantage inside with big men Kyle Filipowski and Dereck Lively. Even Mark Mitchell is taller than all but one of Virginia’s starters.

Jeremy Roach knows what to expect from Clark and Beekman. He can get Tyrese Proctor ready and he’ll need to be. Whatever else happens, Duke cannot afford to have a turnover-happy offense against this team. It’s just blood in the water., by the way has Virginia by -6.

We’ll also add links as we find them.