Preview: The Rematch in Charlottesville

**UPDATE: Most sources have said that Ty Jerome will suit up for Virginia tonight; however, the likelihood that he will be 100% is low.**

The last time these two forces of the NCAA met, the questions mostly swirled on Duke’s side, while UVA remained relatively in balance. Tre Jones had just been injured and the Syracuse loss was hot on everybody’s minds as we’d looked lost without him. Duke, however, pulled out a close 72-70 win and the offense rolled smoothly with RJ Barrett at point guard. Virginia looked disoriented despite having all of its troops; the electric atmosphere created by the Cameron Crazies was sure to have been a factor.

Duke will try to recreate some of that, minus the Crazies, in Charlottesville tonight as we meet the Cavaliers again. Unfortunately, Virginia may also be short a point guard tonight as Ty Jerome is listed as day-to-day after being held out for a “sore back” against Miami last week. Many have said that his presence changes thngs a lot, and for the ‘Hoos, yes, they do. But people do forget that Duke handled a fully healthy UVA just a few weeks ago without our most impactful player on the court. UVA has not seen what Tre Jones does to a game and I think that will be a big factor tonight.

One thing has to hold true for the Blue Devils today: despite the fact that RJ and Zion have shown that they’re able to handle the pack-line, we need Cam Reddish and Jack White to shoot the three well and intelligently today. Not forcing up shots– goodness no, as that’s how Virginia suffocates people– but good shots.

There is, of course, the home court advantage for Virginia. It’s not that much of a difference as Duke thrives in these atmospheres, but at least the Wahoos won’t have to hear deafening screams about UMBC and Kyle Guy’s hair for 2 hours nonstop.

Game Notes: Duke Blue Devils at Virginia Cavaliers

Date: Saturday, February 2, 2019

Time: 6:00pm

Venue: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA

Video: ESPN

Radio: ESPN Radio, Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Bleed blue. Let’s get hyped: watch this a bunch today.

Tre Jones Update and Ga. Tech

Tre Jones, after suffering an AC Joint Separation against Syracuse closing on two weeks ago, has been upgraded to “probable” for today’s matchup with Georgia Tech. As Duke fans we’re certainly excited to get him back, but need it be so soon? The last thing we need is a re-aggravated injury. A win against one of the best teams in the country in Virginia proves that we can survive without him if necessary and the offense has been a lot more fluid– when Tre was gone all of a sudden at Syracuse, I think it was a bit of a shock. It’s a home game in which Duke is -22.5. To be totally honest, I don’t really want him to come back now but I’m trusting the medical staff on this one.

Georgia Tech has played some good defense this year, but one of their main weaknesses against Duke will be size and talent. Talent is a problem for most teams but Georgia Tech plays small. However, it’s an area of focus for the Blue Devils as well– much like Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech uses its guards to get fouls in the interior. Jose Alvarado is much like Pittsburgh’s Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson, getting the to the line a lot with drives. Duke, however, did an excellent job of stopping that and playing hands-up defense, as neither scored a point from the line. Georgia Tech has, however, been competitive with good teams and even beaten Syracuse (a surprising manhandling of the 2-3 zone). They’re good on both ends of the court. This is no down game.

Here are the game notes:

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Duke Blue Devils

Time: 12:00pm

Date: Saturday, January 26, 2019

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ACC Network

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Stream: WatchESPN

Bleed blue.

State of the ACC in 2019

Well, if you haven’t paid attention to the ACC in the last month, it’s time to start. Duke isn’t the only force on the coast as teams such as UVA made statements in late 2018 and look to make their name known in 2019 before March (which is only 2 months away!). Happy New Year! It’s time to separate the headliners and the rebuilders. Take a look.

North Carolina: Will the real Tar Heels please stand up?

These guys are hard to figure out. They looked alright playing mediocre teams, plus Stanford, at the beginning of the year, but weaknesses were exposed in an 89-92 loss to Texas. Kerwin Roach smoked the Heels’ defense for 32 points as the Tar Heels gave up 92 and couldn’t win despite Coby White’s 33 points. A win UCLA against is looking less and less impressive. The one shining star on the Tar Heels’ record would be a 103-90 win against then-4 Gonzaga, but inconsistency has been a big issue. Also, Roy Williams refuses to play athletic marvel, top recruit, and NBA prospect Nassir Little more than a few minutes a game. Little needs the exposure; he has the potential to go top-5 in the draft if he can impress scouts which I believe he can do easily. His productivity is impressive in the few minutes he is granted. The consistency lies in freshman PG Coby White: that kid is a star. UNC plays Pittsburgh on January 5.

Record: 9-3

Pittsburgh: Jeff Capel Turning A Bad Program Around

I’ve been bad about following this since former Duke assistant head coach Jeff Capel departed for Pitt, but he’s making a bad program look fun again! They’re not going to win the ACC or something, but he has them set to be a winning program. The recruits flow to him. Plus, their social media platforms have been hyped. It’s not going to happen instantaneously, but Pitt is creeping back into competition. I can’t wait to see what happens there next. Pitt contested throughout the whole game in a 68-69 loss to ranked Iowa. They play UNC on January 5.

Record: 10-3

NC State: They’re Legitimate.

This is what I can say about NC State right now: Wow! Kevin Keatts was apparently the answer for State. They’re currently ranked #18 in the country. Torin Dorn is an excellent player. I’m excited for NC State-UNC this year (an early January game): this rivalry seems to come to life more and more as NC State revitalizes itself after the Mark Gottfried disaster. Poll voters have mixed opinions as some put the Pack near the top 10 while others didn’t rank them at all. They’re an intriguing development and look good in the future. They have a strong record of 12-1 and have a huge win on the board against #8 Auburn, the only blemish being a loss to Wisconsin. Star player Markell Johnson, though, is apparently having an issue as head coach Kevin Keatts didn’t play him for “low energy”: “Markell was low energy. So when you’re low energy, you don’t play for me… It’s not about the guy that scores the most points, but the guy who plays the hardest. I wanted more energy from him, especially on the defensive end.” NC State plays Miami on January 3.

Record: 12-1

Virginia Tech: Hokies Better Than Ever

Yet another team is on the rise: Virginia Tech had high expectations at the beginning of the season and has lived up to the hype thus far. They did lose to Penn State but have otherwise kept a clean record and entered the top-10 for the first time in a while. They’re the only team in the conference with an ACC win after kicking off the conference stretch with an win vs. Notre Dame in which their offense shone. Yet again, a trip to Blacksburg will be no fun for anybody.

Clemson: A Competitor

In general, this Clemson team has a goal: to prove that last year’s Sweet Sixteen run was no fluke. They’ve beaten the teams, certainly, that they should beat with a few losses intermittently, but in general is a strong group. Marcquise Reed has returned from a knee sprain, giving them back their best player after a little under a month out. This Clemson team will certainly be a competitor in the ACC and will be no easy game for anyone. Clemson will play Duke on January 5.

Record: 10-3

Syracuse: Up and Down

They beat Ohio State, they lose to Old Dominion. They defeat Georgetown, they get beaten by Oregon. This season hasn’t been anywhere close to consistent for the Orange. Tyus Battle has continued to be a force after returning to New York for another season, but in general this team hasn’t quite found its identity. Hopefully for ‘Cuse fans, they can do so during ACC play.

Record: 9-4

Florida State: Top-10 Power

The Seminoles are set to have a pretty good season, their current #9 rank supported by quality wins over LSU and Florida (a rout). Phil Cofer is back from the squad that made the Elite Eight last year alongside Terance Mann who can both be major producers on the offensive end of the court. The ‘Noles, however, will get their first major test against #4 UVA on January 5.

Virginia: Final Four Contender (But Still, UMBC)

Well, get ready, because the Wahoos are just as good as they were last year. With lockdown defense, they can contend with anybody provided that they make something happen on offense. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome can do so at least most of the time, as well as (only) NBA prospect De’Andre Hunter. They are going to be a major favorite- though probably second to Duke- for the ACC crown and will be able to contend with anybody in the NCAA. As of now, they’re undefeated (though the strength of schedule is not there); however, Virginia has a history of choking when it matters most: March.

Record: 12-0


The remaining teams, their records, and their upcoming schedule:

Notre Dame

Record: 10-4

Next: vs. Syracuse, Saturday 12pm

Boston College

Record: 9-3

Next: @ 10 VA Tech, Saturday 12pm

Louisville

Record: 9-4

Next: vs. Miami, Sunday 6pm

Miami

Record: 8-4

Next: @ Louisville, Sunday 6pm

Georgia Tech

Record: 7-5

Next: vs. Wake Forest, Saturday 2pm

Wake Forest

Record: 6-5

Next: @ Georgia Tech, Saturday 2pm

Bleed blue. Get this: we finally get to watch our team play again! Duke takes on their first ACC foe in Clemson in Durham on Saturday at 8pm.

ACC Basketball: Opening Day

Image result for acc
ACC logo in gold and black. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ACC_logo_in_Wake_Forest_colors.svg

While Duke obviously has the toughest test of the night, three other ACC teams also open the season tonight. It’s been a good day for the ACC thus far, which has a total of seven teams in the top twenty-five. These three are expected to have an impact on the college basketball world:

 

1. UNC Survives Wofford

I’ve got to be honest: making UNC play Wofford in their first game of the season is a little bit mean. Last year’s fiasco would not repeat, though, as UNC survived on the road, 78-67. It was closer than UNC probably would have liked it to be, but they survived and, by the way, it’s the first game and this is going to be a sentiment for many of these power programs vs. up-and-comings on either side: It’s the first game. Not much to look into.

2. Virginia D as Good as Ever, Offense Better?

Every year, the ‘Hoos look just about the same: their D is nearly unstoppable, while their offense could use some work (or a lot of work, depending on the week). This season doesn’t look too different. However, the offense could look a little different. A positive difference. Kyle Guy and especially Ty Jerome will drive a lot of people crazy with their speed. UVA defeated Tyson 73-42. Those forty-two points tell us one thing: that Virginia defense is stifling¬†again.

3. Florida State Will Be Good

Florida State isn’t as consistently in the conversation for college basketball, as Duke, Kansas, and Villanova are. But last year’s Elite Eight run turned eyes on them, and now this year, they’re projected to be pretty darn good. They creamed in-state rival Florida today, 81-60, and it wasn’t even as close of as the final score. Watch out for the ‘Noles!

Bleed blue.