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Next Up - Virginia Tech In Cameron

As Duke gets a chance burnish its NCAA resume

Notre Dame v Duke
 DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 14: Dereck Lively II #1 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates his dunk with Kyle Filipowski #30 in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 14, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 68-64.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Date: 2/25 || Time: 8:00 PM || Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium || Video: ESPN

Mike Krzyzewski said a lot of interesting things when he coached Duke and one of the most interesting things he said was that he didn't like the idea of revenge as a motive because it meant you were focusing on the failure last time.

That’s going to be a challenge against Virginia Tech because of the way the game ended.

If you somehow don’t remember, Hokie Michael Collins, apparently intending to make a celebratory punch in the air, instead hit Kyle Filipowski in the throat, hitting him hard enough to make him vomit.

It was ruled a celebratory punch rather than any sort of foul even though it gave Virginia Tech a clear advantage with 12.4 seconds left to go.

You’ll also recall that Dariq Whitehead also got hurt in Blacksburg.

Filipowski had 29 points and 10 rebounds; Whitehead shot 4-6 and had 10 points in 17 minute before his injury.

Both guys, but particularly Filipowski, should be excited for the chance to play again.

Jeremy Roach was still coming off the bench as he recovered from his toe injury and Dereck Lively was still struggling to find his role. So, for that matter, was Tyrese Proctor.

A lot has changed since these teams played just over a month ago. Virginia Tech got Hunter Cattoor back for Duke and he’s fully reincorporated now.

Since beating Duke, Virginia Tech has improved - they’d lost seven straight prior to that win and have since gone 5-4 but as of now, the only chance the Hokies have to make the NCAA field is to win the ACC Tournament.

As usual, Mike Young’s team can light it up from outside. Cattoor hits 43.8 percent. Grant Basile is good for 38.5 percent. Justyn Mutts his 34.3 percent and Sean Pedulla manages 32.3 percent, as does Darius Maddox. Surprisingly though, the Hokies are just 8th in the ACC collectively.

Virginia Tech’s offense overall is middling, coming in at 7th in the ACC. Duke is ninth but Cameron can be a mighty weapon and the Blue Devils are improving rather quickly.

The Hokies also aren’t a particularly good rebounding team and they’re not the biggest team either. Lynn Kidd (6-10/235) and Mylyjael Poteat (6-9/265) have some heft but Lynn gets 13 mpg and Poteat 8.9. The basic rotation is smallish. Virginia Tech has really struggled to replace Keve Aluma.

The big guy who gets the most minutes is Wright State transfer Grant Basile. He’s had some big scoring nights this season including hitting 10-15 against Duke. He’s a capable three point shooter but against Duke, Basile hit four layups and several other baskets in the paint.

That’s going to be harder if Lively is patrolling inside. And if he had been playing as well at Virginia Tech as he has been lately, we don’t think Basile would have shot 66.6 percent.

For that matter, Collins would have had a tougher time getting his last basket.

To us, the basic defensive strategy seems clear: use Lively to limit interior scoring and crowd the three point shooters.

Offensively, press the advantages inside with Filipowski, Lively and Young and turn Whitehead and Mark Mitchell loose to cause chaos. They combined to shoot 7-12 for 18 points before Whitehead’s injury.

It’s worth noting this too: in Blacksburg, Roach, still recovering from his toe injury, hit 3-9. And for his part, Proctor hit 4-12. Combined that’s 7-21. Call it a hunch, but we think they’ll be better.

Finally, consider this. In Blacksburg, Virginia Tech had to hit 57.1 percent overall and 52.6 from three point range to secure a three-point win.

It’s possible they could do that again in Cameron - Young is a brilliant offensive coach - but it won’t be easy to match all the high marks they had in Cassell. Winning in Cameron would probably be a much grittier affair.

Draft Kings has Duke by -7. And also, we’ll add links as we find them.