Virginia Tech (16-16) at (6) Duke (26-5)
Thursday, March 9, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Philips Arena (18,729) -- Atlanta, Georgia Television: ESPN 2, ACC Network. Home Record: VT 11-7, Duke 13-3. Away Record: VT 3-9, Duke 9-1. Neutral Record: VT 2-0, Duke 4-1. Conference Record: VT 4-12, Duke 13-3. Series Record: Duke leads, 39-8.
GAME NOTES: The 10th-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies will try to pull off their second upset in two days as they take on the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at Philips Arena.
Duke managed to sweep the Hokies in this year's season-series to improve its all-time record versus them to 39-8. Although it suffered a 75-60 setback in Blacksburg on Feb. 2, Virginia Tech came dangerously close to defeating the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 25 in their most recent encounter. Virginia Tech's point guard Erick Green missed a 15-footer at the end of regulation in their 70-65 overtime loss to Duke, which would have given his team a huge road victory.
Although they did not pull off the upset on Feb. 25, the Hokies left Durham with the belief they could beat Duke. Virginia Tech lost four in a row to end its regular season, but the only defeat where it did not have a chance in the final minute was its 70-58 loss to the desperate NC State Wolfpack. Coach Seth Greenberg's team came into the tourney tied for last place in the league's standings with Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Boston College. The Hokies are the only remaining program of the four after their 68-63 upset of the No. 7 seed, Clemson, on Thursday. Tech might be fatigued for its bout with Duke, as it required a big run in the second half to come out on top in Thursday's triumph.
Duke finished second in the ACC after losing 88-70 to North Carolina in its winner-take-all season finale.Coach Mike Krzyzewski will be attempting to win the tournament for the fourth year in a row to add a record-breaking 14th ACC Tournament Championship to his own personal collection, and a 20th title for the school. Duke had a seven-game winning streak snapped in its season finale. The Blue Devils are one of the top offensive teams in the country with an average of 78.7 ppg. However, Duke is third to last in the ACC in scoring defense, as its opponents have averaged 69.1 ppg against it this season.
The Hokies have not been able to find as much success against Duke as they were held to 62.5 ppg in their two losses this season. Green had a different demeanor in Thursday's rally past Clemson than usual down the stretch. The junior guard came up clutch in the final five minutes, which was refreshing as he had crumbled in multiple pressure situations this season. Green finished his first round game with 24 points, while his backcourt mate Dorenzo Hudson added 19 points.
Tech's guards will have a much tougher challenge in this one as they try to slow down Austin Rivers and Seth Curry once again. Rivers was named the ACC Rookie of the Year after he led the team with 15.3 ppg. Curry was the second- leading scorer for Duke with 13.5 ppg due to exceptional shooting from the charity stripe and distance. Mason and Miles Plumlee are going to have to increase their already strong effort on the glass for Duke, which will be without its starting forward Ryan Kelly for the ACC Tournament.
Duke's second matchup with the Hokies came less than 48 hours after a draining, emotional victory over Florida State on the road. The content in which the Blue Devils earned 15-point victory over the Hokies on Feb. 2 suggests this one will not go down to the wire. Virginia Tech will need to limit Duke's three-point shooting success to give itself a chance at an upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Duke 77, Virginia Tech 67
03/09 10:31:44 ET