Virginia Commonwealth (3-1) vs. (5) Duke (4-0)|
Friday, November 23, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Imperial Arena (4,500) -- Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Television: NBCSN. Home Record: VCU 1-1, Duke 2-0. Away Record: VCU 1-0, Duke
0-0. Neutral Record: VCU 1-0, Duke 2-0. Conference Record: VCU 0-0, Duke 0-0.
Series Record: Virginia Commonwealth leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils and the Virginia Commonwealth
Rams will meet up on Friday night in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis
in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
The winner will play either Louisville or Missouri in the championship game on
Saturday night, while the losers will face off in the third place game.
VCU's only loss of the season came in a nail-biter against Wichita State on
Nov. 13, but otherwise it has been very impressive. The Rams recorded easy
wins over Florida Gulf Coast (80-57) and Winthrop (90-54) before entering the
tournament where they took care of business against Memphis in the opening
Duke's undefeated start to the season has been highlighted by a neutral-court
victory over No. 3 Kentucky, a game in which they pulled away in the second
half to win, 75-68. The Blue Devils were able to advance in the tournament by
making easy work of Minnesota, 89-71.
VCU won the only meeting between these two squads, 79-77, in the first round
of the NCAA Tournament in 2007.
The Rams have gotten off to a fine start to the season as far as their
shooting percentage is concerned, draining 45.5 percent of their shots
overall, but they've been especially impressive from beyond the arc. VCU
connects on nearly 10 three-pointers per game at a 43 percent clip, and
Thursday's performance against Memphis was no different as it went 13-of-22
from downtown. Treveon Graham contributed four of those treys and finished 8-
of-12 overall en route to a game-high 26 points. Rob Bradenberg was even
better from deep, going a perfect 5-of-5 for 15 points off the bench. Graham's
performance in the opening round allowed him to leapfrog Juvonte Reddic (14.2
ppg) as the team's leading scorer, as he now puts up 14.5 ppg. Darius Theus
(10.0 ppg) has also been a reliable source of points.
The Blue Devils have also ridden hot shooting to their 4-0 start, as they are
connecting on nearly 50 percent of their field goal attempts en route to 81.5
ppg. They, too, have been great from beyond the arc, hitting nine three-
pointers per game at a 43.4 percent clip. The trend continued against
Minnesota in the opening round as Duke made 30-of-55 shots from the field,
including an astounding 8-of-10 from long range. All five starters scored in
double figures, paced by Seth Curry, who was nearly perfect on the afternoon
by draining 8-of-11 from the field (3-of-3 from three) and 6-of-7 from the
foul line. Mason Plumlee was a beast with 20 points and 17 rebounds, and on
the season he's logged 21.3 ppg on 71.4 percent from the floor while grabbing
10.8 rpg. Curry (18.3 ppg) has also been a consistently excellent scorer,
while Ryan Kelly (11.5), Rasheed Sulaimon (11.5) and Quinn Cook (10.0, 4.5
apg) have been great assets as well.
With a couple of sharp-shooting squads, the points in this matchup could rack
up in no time, but where VCU tends to live and die by the three-ball, Duke is
much more well-balanced, meaning that the Blue Devils can pull this one out
even with a cold night shooting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Duke 83, VCU 70
11/23 10:50:37 ET