Battle For Supremacy: Blue Devils Vs Cavaliers

Blue Devils Vs Cavaliers

Battle For Supremacy: Blue Devils Vs Cavaliers

Will Ojanen with Chris Bond, Xayveon and Jim Quist

One of the most intriguing match ups of the college basketball season is coming up Saturday with the Blue Devils vs Cavaliers. Second ranked Virginia travels to Durham to face fourth ranked Duke.

Virginia is 19-1 this season, coming off one of their most impressive defensive performances of the year holding Clemson to just 36 points. Meanwhile, Duke easily dispatched Wake Forest.

C: Duke, 18-2, has been hot lately. Winning five straight games with four of those by 10 points or more. Freshman forward Wendell Carter is coming off two straight 20 point efforts. Teamed with Player of the Year candidate, Marvin Bagley, he has helped lead the nation’s most prolific scoring attack. Duke is averaging 91.7 points per game.

X: It’s the #1 defense vs the #1 offense in what many would say is the best match up in the ACC or quite possibly all of college basketball. No matter who wins, this game has classic written all over it. 

J: On the flip side of that both teams are ranked 13th among 15 in the opposite categories. So, while Duke scores an average of 91.7 points per game they also allow 72.7 points per game. As for Virginia, they may hold opponents to 51.6 points per game but they only score 69.2 points per game. Duke and Virginia are 1 & 2 in the conference on Margin. The Blue Devils at 19 and Cavaliers at 17.6 points per game.

I’m tempted to toss all the stats out the window when comparing these two teams. Quite frankly, the offensive and defensive performances of these teams are anomalies. Because they are so good at what they do they tend to surpass opponents in ways that are outside the norm.

Battle For Supremacy: Blue Devils Vs Cavaliers

Key Match Up

The key match up in this game has to be at front court. Will Jack Salt and Isaiah Wilkins slow down Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter? Duke’s big men have averaged 36 points and 21 rebounds per game this season.

Salt and Wilkins have regularly shut down big men all season but they haven’t faced this level of talent before.

X: Virginia has struggled with rebounding this year, while Duke has excelled in this statistic. My focus will be on the boards and who’s able to control the game on that front.

If Virginia can keep Bagley and Carter off the the glass on both sides it will go a long way in their attempt to escape Cameron and the crazies with a W.

J: I look at the poor performances by Duke on defense as more of a problem than most imagine. Sure, they can score but can they stop their opponents on defense? Or, are they just out running them on offense? Eventually that game plan, intended or not, catches up to you.

Bagley can be stopped. We have evidence of that.

Key points? Virginia’s defense will be challenged in the paint. Will Duke be patient enough when their offense gets out of rhythm? Frankly, this feels like coach vs coach more than anything at all. As much as I respect K, I’d hate to hear Bennett’s footsteps behind me.

C: The Hoos have been more than twice as hot as Duke. With a number two ranking, rattling off 11 straight wins and their recent 61-36 blowout of 18th ranked Clemson. The team boasts the best defensive units I’ve seen in some time. They’ve held opponents to 60 or fewer points on all but two occasions and allow an average of just 51.6 points per game. 

Isaiah Wilkins and the Cavaliers will have their toughest task to date in trying to stop the high powered Blue Devil offense on Saturday. It’s a classic match up of strength versus strength.

Battle For Supremacy: Blue Devils Vs Cavaliers

Who Wins And Why?

While I feel like Virginia can hit some threes in this game, I’m not sure they have the ability to stop Bagley and Carter on a consistent basis. Even if they do, Duke can kick out to Gary Trent, Jr. or Grayson Allen for a three. I expect this to be a very competitive game. Final score: Duke 64 – Virginia 60.

J: I’m going with Virginia. That smothering defense takes teams, especially young ones, out of their game. The crowd will be a factor as always. This game has overtime potential written all over it. I can see one of those last second shots that slow down time deciding the win. Will it be Kyle Guy, Devon Hall or Ty Jerome at the buzzer? Final score: Virginia 73 – Duke 70.

C: When great defense meets great offense it’s usually the defense that gets its way. I feel the game will be decided on the offensive side for Virginia. Not a prolific offense for the Cavaliers but Duke’s defense that has been porous and completely disconnected at times. Final score: Virginia 61 – Duke 57.

X: Strong defense has led the charge for the Cavaliers all season and I expect much of the same when these two teams match up. Virginia will rise to the occasion and prove that they are for real on the road in one of the hardest places to play in all of college sports. Final score: Virginia 62 – Duke 58.

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