Preview: Duke (11-1) v. Virginia Tech (9-4)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Hokies who tip off ACC action on Sunday night in Cameron. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sport Net beginning at 7:45 EST.


Duke (11-1) vs Virginia Tech (9-4)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: Fox Sports Net / Tip: 7:45 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference:  ACC
Nickname:  Hokies
Colors: Crimson, Orange, and White
Head Coach: Seth Greenberg (5th season)
Career Record at Virginia Tech: 97-74

Projected Starters:
40 A.D. Vassallo (6-6, 216, Sr.) – 19.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.5 apg
 0 Jeff Allen (6-7, 230, So.) – 13.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.9 spg
14 Victor Davila (6-8, 245, Fr.) – 4.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg
23 Malcolm Delaney (6-3, 170, So.) – 16.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.4 apg
 5 Dorenzo Hudson (6-5, 220, So.) – 4.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg

Key Reserves:
34 Cheick Diakite (6-9, 217, So.) – 3.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
 1 Terrell Bell (6-6, 205, So.) – 2.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg
21 Lewis Witcher (6-9, 218, Jr.) – 2.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg 
33 J.T. Thompson (6-6, 210, So.) - 6.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg

Storylines For Virginia Tech:

How They Got Here:
The Blue Devils returned to action from the holiday layoff with an easy and important victory over Loyola (Md.) earlier this week at home. Overall the Blue Devils are sitting at 11-1 on the year and have a perfect 7-0 mark at home on the year.

Meanwhile the Hokies have experienced a roller coaster of a pre-conference season. Virginia Tech has posted a solid performance against Xavier, stretching the Musketeers to overtime before falling by one. The team's best victory of the season may have come in late December when Virginia Tech defeated St. John's at Madison Square Garden by 14.

Series History:
This will be the 41st meeting between the two programs. The Blue Devils hold a 33-7 advantage in the previous 40 contests. Virginia Tech is 2-4 in ACC action and 1-9 all time in Cameron Indoor Stadium including a 69-67 overtime win on January 6th, 2007.

Injury Report:
Duke guard Nolan Smith, who left the game early against Loyola is expected to play against the Hokies after returning to practice this week.

Helping Hand Returns For Tech:
Sophomore combo forward J.T. Thompson returned to action on December 20th after being out since undergoing surgery on Nov 14 to correct an inguinal hernia. In his last game out Thompson recorded 15 points and two rebounds against Charleston Southern.

Make Sure To Lookout For...
A.D. Vassallo, the senior forward who has taken his game to the next level in his final year in Blacksburg. Having scored more than 1,400 points in his career, Vassallo has also added in more than 350 rebounds and 100 assists in his career. In his fourth season Vassallo is the ACC's iron man, leading the league in minutes played (36.8) while being second in scoring average (19.0).

Joining the senior leader is rest of what coach Seth Greenberg refers to as his "Big 3" including Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen. In the first 13 games of the year that trio has accounted for 645 of Virginia Tech's 928 points (69.5%); 266 of the 508 rebounds (52.5%); and 126 of the 197 assists (64.0%).

Getting Tech In A Close Game = Flip Of A Coin:
Since taking over the program, Seth Greenberg has found himself in 60 games that were decided by five or fewer points. In those contests the Hokies have posted a 28-32 record including a 2-4 record this season.

Hokies Play Well Under Bright Lights:
Virginia Tech has played well lately when their games are televised - posting a 6-4 record this year in such games. This is on top of a 15-10 record a season ago. That's a marked change from the first few seasons under Greenberg where Virginia Tech was just 35-44 in such contests.

Greenberg's Message - Defense:
In 171 career games at the helm of the Hokie program Seth Greenberg has seen his team hold opponents to 40% or less shooting from the field 58 times (34%). On the whole the Hokies are holding their opponents to 39.5% shooting from the field this season. Only three opponents have shot better than 45% against Virginia Tech this season.

Fearless Predicitions
There is no denying that Virginia Tech will be a scrappy and game opponent for Duke in the ACC opener. Over the last few years teams coached by Greenberg have a tendency to play a "spirited" brand of basketball - especially against the Blue Devils. Look for that to continue, which will be a good test for Duke's big guys - notably Brian Zoubek and Kyle Singler. Look for Duke to go to Singler and Henderson early in hopes of getting Vasallo in foul trouble. If the Blue Devils win the battle of the boards and the frontcourt plays well, it should be enough for a comfortable victory.

Prediction:

Duke 84
Virginia Tech 71


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