Virginia Tech Hokies (9-4) +15 at No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (11-1) -15
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C., 7:45PM Eastern, Sunday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
ACC action will kick off this weekend at Cameron Indoor Stadium when the no. 5 Duke Blue Devils host the Virginia Tech Hokies. The game marks the first ACC match-up of the season for both schools and the Blue Devils will come into the contest as healthy favorites. Duke is the winner of 3 straight games including a blowout against at the time no. 7 Xavier and looks to continue their stellar play. The Hokies have struggled early this season dropping 4 losses in their first 13 games, but will try and start off conference play on a high not as they will be in a hostile environment to take on the Blue Devils.
Virginia Tech has really struggled shooting the ball this season. The Hokies rank 170th in field goal percentage shooting a dismal 43% from the floor. Virginia Tech is averaging 71 points per game for the season while allowing 63 points from opponents. The Hokies are generally in low scoring ball games, but may have to up the tempo to keep pace with the Blue Devils. Defensively the Hokies have played well holding teams to shoot only 39% from the field on the season. Virginia Tech will face a tough task when they square off against a talented Duke team that can flat out shoot the ball.
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Duke is a premier offensive team that will give Virginia Tech a ton of threats to worry about. The Blue Devils have a number of players that can get hot at anytime. Duke is shooting a strong 48.6% as a team this season that ranks in the top 25 in the country. The Blue Devils are averaging a stout 80 points per game this season that ranks 8th nationally. Similar to Virginia Tech, Duke has held opponents to a low 39 percent field goal percentage. The Blue Devil high power offense could be too much for Virginia Tech to handle, but conference play proves to be wild especially in the ACC.
The books have the betting line favoring the Duke Blue Devils by a strong 15 points over the Hokies. ATS odds stand at -110, but may favor the Blue Devils more leading up to game time considering the lean of the betting public.
Duke has two young playmakers in junior Kyle Singler and sophomore Jon Scheyer. Singler leads the team with 16.3 points per game while adding 7.3 rebounds per contest as well. Scheyer is a player that can get hot on any given night that has shot 48% from the floor and right at 40% from 3 point range. Scheyer is averaging 14 points per game this season along with 3 rebounds and 3 assist per game. If these two start players can not get the job done, they have plenty of help with names like Gerald Richardson and Nolan Smith. Smith is shooting a team high 50% from the floor this season. Duke also sports a strong bench that will give an extra worry to the Hokies. The Blue Devils will attempt to run up and down the court and wear down the Virginia Tech lineup.
Virginia Tech has a trio of players that have really carried the team so far this season. A.D. Vassallo, Malcolm Delaney, and Jeff Allen are all averaging double figures and will try and lift the Hokies over the Blue Devils. Vassallo is averaging nearly 20 points per game this season with 7 rebounds. Jeff Allen is averaging 14 points per game with 9 rebounds while Delaney has been responsible for 17 points per game on the year as well. Allen and Vassallo will need to control the glass in this game or at least stay even with the Blue Devils in rebounds. Duke has been strong on both sides of the boards this season ranking in the top 25 in both categories. For Virginia Tech to stay in this game, they must be the ones getting the 2nd chance shots because the Blue Devils first shots are dangerous enough.
The Blue Devils have gone 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games while reaching the over total in 3 of their last 4 games. Virginia Tech has won their last two games ATS after losing 4 of 5 ATS before those games. However, the Hokies are a perfect 3-0 ATS as underdogs this season.
Jays Pick - I do not believe Virginia Tech matches up well against Duke. The Blue Devils have too much depth and too many weapons to be controlled by the Hokies starters. Take Duke -15.