Preview: Duke (18-3) vs. Virginia (13-6)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Cavaliers who tip off Thursday night in Charlottesville, Va. at the John Paul Jones Arena. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN with the tip off scheduled for shortly after 9:00 PM EST.


10 Duke (18-3) @ Virginia (13-6)
Charlottesville, Va. (John Paul Jones Arena)
9:00 p.m., ESPN

Program Vitals
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
Nickname: Cavaliers
Colors: Blue & Orange 
Head Coach:   Dave Leitao   (2nd year)
Career Record at Virginia: 28-21 (108-90 Overall - 7 years)

Projected Starters:
44 Sean Singletary (6-0, 185, Jr.) – 19.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.0 apg

 2 J.R. Reynolds (6-3, 197, Jr.) – 18.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.0 apg
33 Jason Cain (6-10, 225, Sr.) – 7.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg
24 Mamadi Diane (6-5, 197, So.) – 11.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg
30 Adrian Joseph (6-7, 205, Jr.) – 7.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Key Reserves:
34 Ryan Pettinella (6-9, 230, Jr.) – 5.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg
 1 Will Harris (6-6, 230, Fr.) – 3.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg
11 Laurynas Mikalauskas	(6-8, 255, So) - 3.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg
12 Jamil Tucker (6-8, 230, Fr.) - 3.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg

Storylines:

Series History:
Sunday night's game will mark the 155th time the two teams have met with the Blue Devils holding a commanding 107-47 lead in the series. Last season, the Blue Devils cruised to an easy 82-63 victory over the Cavaliers behind one of the best offensive performances in ACC history from J.J. Redick, who scored 40 points on just 13 field goal attempts. Under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils are 43-15 against Virginia. This will be Duke's first time in the brand new John Paul Jones Arena.

How They Will Enter The Match Up:
The early season setbacks against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are now distant memories for this young Blue Devil team after reeling off five consecutive wins including decisions over Clemson and Boston College - two teams that were above Duke in the standings at tip off. Meanwhile the Cavaliers have surprised many with their run to a 5-2 start in ACC play. After all this was the same Virginia team that lost to Appalachian State in Puerto Rico in December. After losing to North Carolina and at Boston College, the Cavaliers have dispatched Maryland, Wake Forest, NC State, and Clemson by an average of 9.5 points per game.

Injury Report:
Duke enters the game with third year sophomore David McClure listed as questionable after the 6'6 wing fell to the ground with a hyper extended knee against Boston College on Sunday night. Meanwhile the Cavaliers are looking to get a shot in the arm with the return of 6'9 junior post player Ryan Pettinella, who suffered a dislocated knee cap in the San Juan Shootout during the team's final game against the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. Pettinella was in uniform for UVa's win at Clemson on Sunday, but did not play. On Wednesday, he looked good in practice, leading the way in sprints at the end of the session. He also looked good in controlled scrimmages according to the local UVa beat writers.

Explosive Backcourt A Key For Cavaliers
With all due respect to the fine backcourts around the league, there is probably no better duo than JR Reynolds and Sean Singletary. Both are scoring nearly 20 points per night. Both can handle the ball. And both have been unstoppable during their team's current four game win streak - with Singletary averaging 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists and Reynolds averaging 26.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists against Maryland, Wake Forest, NC State, and Clemson. The third, and sometimes overlooked cog in the three headed attack is sophomore Mamadi Diane, who proved to be the difference maker against Maryland with 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

Youth Leading Duke:
Freshman Jon Scheyer is averaging a team-best 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game over the last five games. He also has 14 assists and a 2.8:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the same stretch. Scheyer knocked down 4-of-4 free throws against Boston College and has now made 29 straight free throws (tied with Trajan Langdon for fourth-most in Duke history). On the year, Scheyer is shooting 87.1 percent (74-of-85) from the free throw line, third-best in the ACC. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils got an unexpected lift from first year forward Lance Thomas on Sunday against the Eagles when the 6-8 New Jersey product scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds - marking his best performance in nearly two full months.

Virginia Wants To Run and Gun:
The Cavaliers have shown the ability to earn victories in defensive slugfests, but seem to prefer high scoring track meets. When Virginia has scored 75 or more points, they have compiled a record of 9-1 while out-scoring their opponents by 18.1 points per game. When scoring less than 75 points, the Cavaliers are just 4-5, with an average scoring margin of -4.2 points per game.

Devils Looking To Round Off Impressive First Half:
After losing the first two games of the ACC season, the Blue Devils are now 5-2 in the league, hoping to make it to 6-2 - mark which will allow breathing room as the league schedule ramps up considerably in terms of strength of opponents in the second set of eight games. Following the game in Charlottesvile, Duke's second half looks like this: home games with Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Maryland with road trips to Boston College, Chapel Hill, Maryland, and Georgia Tech. With road wins coming at a premium throughout the league in 2007, and the prospect of playing some of the country's top squads looming, ending the first part of the league slate with six wins is imperative.

McVersatile Continues To Produce:
Sophomore Josh McRoberts, a Midseason Top 30 candidate for the Wooden Award, has registered a double-double in each of the last two games and is tied for third in the ACC with five double-doubles this season. The 6'10 sophomore is currently averaging 13.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. No player in Duke history has averaged more than 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals for a season. Grant Hill (1993-94) is the only player in Duke history to average at least 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. .

Prediction:
Duke 73
Virginia 67


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