Virginia Tech Hokies vs #4 Duke Blue Devils a preview


Feb 21, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Malik Muller (1) dribbles the ball around North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Ralston Turner (22) during the first half at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The weather outside is once again snowy and cold, and the Hokies are on an extreme cold streak when it comes to the win column.  Virginia Tech is in the midst of a stretch of games where they are playing extremely hard, but have no results to show for it.  The Hokies have lost the last three game in ugly fashion, being blown on the scoreboard in all three.  The task for the Hokies does not get any easier as they welcome the number 4 ranked Duke Blue Devils into Blacksburg.

The game with the Blue Devils has been a hot ticket for months.  The game was a sellout over a month ago, and this game is one that Hokie fans have looked forward to for some time.  The Cassell will be rocking for sure.  I’m not sure however a packed house will lead the Hokies to a victory over a highly ranked foe.  The Blue Devils are one of the best teams in the country.  However, the Hokies have had a knack of knocking off the Blue Devils at home.  However, in the games where the Hokies have pulled the upset they were a slightly older and more experienced team.  Youth is something the Hokies do share with the Devils, but the Devils youth might be just a little more talented.

Duke comes into the game with a record of 24-3 overall and 11-3 in conference.  The Devils are at a log jam atop the ACC, and are looking to solidify their position as a top seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.  The Blue Devils have a group of talented players which they hope will help them accomplish this goal.  However, their most talented player might not be able to play on Wednesday night.

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Jahlil Okafor is the top contender for player of the year in the NCAA.  He also, is the Blue Devils leading scorer at just under 18 points a game.  Okafor is also the leading rebounder for Duke at over 9 board a game.  However, all this offense might be on the bench in street clothes, as Okafor might still be feeling the lingering effects of an ankle injury suffered in a huge win against UNC.  Not having Okafor is not a huge problem for the Devils.  There is plenty of talent all around Okafor for the Hokies to worry about.

Quinn Cook is the Devils second leading scorer, and is arguably the leader on the court for the Devils.  Cook, along with his back court running mate Tyus Jones, make up one of the better back courts in the nation.  Jones is really coming into his own as a freshman, and presents all kinds of offensive problems for the Hokies.  The real issue for the Hokies will be keeping the athleticism of Justise Winslow in check.  Winslow’s hustle and rebounding can be the difference in any game, but in the case of the Hokies it could put the game out of reach very early.

The Hokies will need a stellar effort from everyone that steps on the court on Wednesday.  Let’s be honest Hokie fans, our boys from Blacksburg need to play a perfect game to get the upset win.  Justin Bibbs, Adam Smith and Malik Mueller will all need to score in huge bunches as well as distribute the basketball to open shooters as the defense collapses around them.  Bibbs seems to be breaking out of his post injury funk in his last game.  Bibbs will need to continue to score in bunches, in order to keep the Hokies close.

Malik Mueller has been the most improved player as of late.  Mueller’s move to the four spot has improved his play not only on the offensive end but at the defensive end as well.  Mueller has used his toughness to play bigger players in the post and used his quickness to frustrate his opponents into turnovers.  Mueller will more than likely draw the defensive assignment of Justise Winslow.  This will be one of the toughest matchups for Mueller all season.

Hokie fans I’m going to be honest, the Hokies pulling the upset is probably not going to happen.  Duke is an extremely well coached team, as well as an extremely talented team, they won’t be caught looking ahead to a matchup with Syracuse later on this week.  The Blue Devils size, speed, and talent are going to take over this game early and put this game away in the first half.  Even if Okafor doesn’t play the Blue Devils will cruise.  This game is a blowout, the  Virginia Tech Hokies loss it 89-65.