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Hokies Hoops Game Day: Duke Pick and Preview

by killyp

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics

Few college basketball venues carry the prestige like the building that head coach Mike Young and Virginia Tech will step into on Wednesday evening. 

The Hokies (8-4, 0-1 ACC) won’t be going to sightsee, though. After picking up some steam, identity, and momentum in Charlotte over the weekend, Young’s team will trek south to the Tar Heel State. 

There waiting, the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (10-1, 0-0 ACC), looking to avoid a massive upset and prevent Virginia Tech from securing just its second-ever victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

Game Day Information

When: Wednesday, Dec. 22, 9 p.m. ET

Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC


PXP: Dave O’Brien

Analyst: Jay Bilas 

Series History: Duke Leads 50-11

Last Meeting: Virginia Tech Won 74-67 on Jan. 12, 2021

Line: Virginia Tech -9

A Big Time Beat Down

We’re not sure if anybody expected to see what they saw at the Spectrum Center from Young’s team. 

The Hokies were in desperate need of a victory to boost their NCAA Tournament resume. They got just that, and then some, routing Atlantic 10 power St. Bonaventure, 86-49, in the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame Shootout. 

Opportunities against Memphis, Xavier, and Dayton had all slipped away one-by-one, but when the ball went up against the Bonnies, it quickly became Virginia Tech’s afternoon.

Quickly, the Hokies led 13-0. Then it was 25-7. How about 32-12? Finally, when the halftime buzzer sounded, it was a 42-20 contest, with Virginia Tech powering its way through the first 20 minutes of play. 

It didn’t stop there, either. An inevitable St. Bonaventure run never transpired. Then, before you knew it, the Hokies all of a sudden had a 30-, then a 35-, and eventually, a 43-point lead with just over four minutes to play. 

It was complete and utter domination from Virginia Tech. A team that so badly needed it before ACC play, really kicked into gear. 

Outmuscling, out-toughing, and certainly outplaying the opposition was a continuous theme all afternoon long, as the maroon and orange frustrated the Bonnies to the point where the game was out of hand early in the second half. 

It certainly was a well-played game all around for Virginia Tech. But with the improved point guard play and sizzling three-point shooting, a lot of credit should be directed to both Hunter Cattoor and Storm Murphy. Those two added a career-high 21, and 18 points, respectively. 

Much more facilitating and much more poised, the Wofford graduate transfer put together a masterful performance at the top of the key. 

Cattoor’s 5-for-5 night from beyond the arc was a welcomed sight for a struggling Hokies’ team. 

It was a basketball masterpiece, painted by Virginia Tech in the Queen City on Friday afternoon. 

Come Wednesday evening however, the painting will be much more difficult to construct. 

One More Visit

In what will be longtime head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final year as the Blue Devils’ big whistle, there continues to be a multitude of praise and celebration directed towards the 74-year-old head man. 

It’s easy to forget how talented Duke really is. After a hiatus from the NCAA Tournament a season ago, the Blue Devils seem poised for one more run at a national championship with Kryzewski at the helm in Durham. 

A big reason for that is the combination of Wendell Moore Jr., and preseason ACC Player of the Year, Paolo Banchera. Both have taken the nation by storm early on in the 2021-22 campaign. 

It’s typical to see Moore (16.9 points per game) perform the way he has based on his previous two seasons at Duke, but it’s the true freshman Banchera (16.5 points per game) who has really turned heads. The Seattle native has certainly lived up to the hype. 

The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder averages more than seven rebounds for the Blue Devils as well. With his size and length, he’ll certainly cause some problems for Keve Aluma and Virginia Tech down low. 

Trevor Keels (12.6 points per game), Jeremy Roach (9.3 points per game), and Mark Williams (9.2 points per game) have also been solid. Additionally, senior Joey Baker (7.7 points per game) continues to be a nice piece off Kryzweski’s bench. 

There’s strength, length, and athleticism all over this roster. 

The lone loss to Ohio State stands out. But with the makeup of this Duke roster, and with the season serving as a glorified curtain call for the future Hall of Famer, it’s not going to be surprising if the Blue Devils are the ones hoisting a championship trophy when it’s all said and done. 

The Pick

The Hokies finally showed signs of reaching their potential, but the task is quite daunting to pick off Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

The matchup just isn’t there for Virginia Tech. With the size and speed that the Blue Devils possess, the Hokies are going to have trouble across the floor, especially down low. 

Virginia Tech will keep it competitive, but when the clock hits triple zeroes, No. 2 Duke will be victorious in its ACC opener. 

Prediction: (2) Duke 82, Virginia Tech 69