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Next Up - Virginia Tech

As the Blue Devils head back to Cassell

Clemson v Duke
 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 27: Sean Stewart talks to Kyle Filipowski #30 of the Duke Blue Devils after Filipowski was called for a foul against the Clemson Tigers during the first half of the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 27, 2024 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Date 1/29 || Time 7:00 || Venue Cassell Coliseum || Video ESPN

You may not have thought much about last year’s Virginia Tech game and how it ended, but we’re pretty sure it’s been stuck in Kyle Filipowski’s craw just like MJ Collins’ fist was in his throat at the end of that 78-75 loss. Oddly enough, we don’t think any Clemson fans, or anyone else, was saying “Duke gets all the calls” after that one.

Duke goes back to Blacksburg to find that neither team is exactly what was expected.

Virginia Tech certainly has the core of a good team but it has struggled. Like Duke, the Hokies have had some injuries, notably to Hunter Cattoor, who took a shot to the head recently. Mekhi Long has a knee injury though it doesn’t seem critical and Sean Pedulla had a foot injury.

Duke has had problems with Christian Reeves (ankle), Mark Mitchell (knee) and Jeremy Roach (knee and now ankle). The injuries have been disruptive for both teams. Duke, for instance, could really use Reeves to back up Kyle Filipowski and add depth to the front court and Roach is incredibly valuable. He did play against Clemson but he clearly wasn’t 100 percent. Hopefully he’s better at Virginia Tech.

The Hokies primary players are Cattoor, Pedulla, Collins, Tyler Nickel, Lynn Kidd, Robbie Beran, Mekhi Long, Mylyjael Poteat and Brandon Rechsteiner.

Cattoor and Pedulla make up a great backcourt. Cattoor is a 6-3 senior putting up 13.7 ppg. He’s also one of the smartest players in the ACC and hits 42.9 percent of this threes. And Pedulla has been terrific this season. A 6-2 junior, Pedulla put up 26 against Florida State, then 32 against Clemson and 33 against Miami. He’s capable of just erupting.

Collins is back as well and the 6-4 sophomore doesn’t shoot well except from the line where he’s hitting at a 90.5 percent clip.

Nickel is a 6-7 sophomore who transferred from Virginia and is getting a lot more minutes - 25.2 a game - and scoring 9.1 ppg. Like Cattoor, he shoots well from behind the line (39.8 percent).

Lynn Kidd is a 6-10 senior who started at Clemson before transferring. He’s averaging 14 ppg and 6.6. boards.

Like Duke’s Ryan Young, Robbie Beran left Northwestern for the ACC. He’s been productive for the Hokies if not profoundly so (6.0 ppg, 3.7 rebounds) but he’s solid. He’s a 6-9 senior and a native of Richmond.

The 6-7 Long is a transfer from Old Dominion. His stats are modest but he’s playing.

Rechsteiner is a 6-1 freshman who is sort of Pedulla’s understudy for now. He’s in the rotation and may become a good player later. By the way, his dad is a professional wrestler.

Poteat is a transfer from Rice and a native of Reidsville here in NC. He’s 6-9 and 265 and he’ll probably spend some time leaning on Filipowski.

By now we know what to expect from a Mike Young team. They're going to be aggressive. They’re going to take threes and probably hit a bunch. And they generally get up for Duke.

As for the Blue Devils, we think that Filipowski should be fired up for this one as should the rest of the guys who were here last season. Proctor has been playing exceptionally well lately. Mark Mitchell has taken his game to another level too and, as we saw against Clemson, Jared McCain can be deadly on both ends of the court. Caleb Foster didn't have one of his better games Saturday but he still picked up four rebounds, five points and two assists.

We’re not sure why Jaylen Blakes didn’t play against Clemson but hopefully he’ll play at Virginia Tech. He’s incredibly disruptive. Ryan Young and Sean Stewart will probably be needed.

TJ Power didn't play against Clemson but we could see him being a big deal in a game like this. He and Stewart both have work to do, but they can both add a lot to the team now in certain situations.

But the biggest deal is Roach.

Having a senior leader who knows how to make a play or get a bucket when it’s needed is just huge.

Duke has had a lot of disruption with injuries lately and that’s really hurt continuity. Roach could help stabilize things.

This is still a young team and road games are still challenging.

The keys to us though are a motivated Filipowski (partly by his struggles Saturday and partly by last year’s ending in Cassell). If they play well and Duke has the outstanding ball movement it has had at times this season, then the Blue Devils will be in a good spot. And if they start hitting threes or getting transition points too, it could be a good night.

If not, it could be a long one.