Duke Looks To Sweep Virginia In Top Five Matchup

Friday, February 8, 2019 2:52 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 2:52 PM UTC

Duke beat Virginia three weeks ago without its point guard. Now it’s Virginia who is dealing with point guard injuries in the rematch.

Shawn’s ATS Season Record: 13-7

Duke (20-2, 14-8 ATS) at Virginia (20-1, 16-5 ATS)Saturday, 6 PM (ESPN)Free NCAAB Pick: Duke ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Three weeks ago, when Duke and Virginia played in a top-five showdown, the Blue Devils beat the previously unbeaten Cavaliers, despite not having freshman point guard and defensive stopper Tre Jones.

Virginia will now try to repeat the feat in Saturday’s rematch in Charlottesville. Cavs point guard Ty Jerome is questionable, after missing the last game with a sprained back. The junior is questionable for Saturday’s game, and the last official update from UVa was that he was “improving” on Monday.

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UPDATE: Coach Bennett updates the injury status of PG Ty Jerome. pic.twitter.com/6Z3zZmO63h

— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) 4 de fevereiro de 2019
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Jerome had half of Virginia’s assists in the first meeting with Duke, to go with 14 points and four rebounds. He’s third in the ACC in assists (5.0 per game), third in assist-to-turnover ratio and fifth in three-point accuracy.

If he can’t go, or if he’s limited by his back, the point guard duties will fall to freshman Kihei Clark, who is playing with a brace on his left wrist after breaking it in December. That would likely allow Duke to shift Jones to Kyle Guy, Virginia’s top outside shooting threat.

Jerome’s absence allowed Virginia to lose its second straight ATS, Saturday against Miami, after covering eight in a row.

Virginia had a midweek bye in the schedule this week, allowing the Cavs to rest Jerome and/or come up with a plan for matching up with Duke without him.

Duke firing on all cylinders

Duke, meanwhile, has been rolling since the first showdown with the Cavaliers. The Blue Devils have covered three straight and four of the last five.

Duke, criticized in the media for not playing a true road game in non-conference play, has actually been better on the road (5-2 ATS) than at home (9-6 ATS). That matches up well with Virginia, who is 9-4 ATS at home, 7-1 ATS elsewhere.

Freshman big man Zion Williamson continues to live up to the substantial hype. He’s 50-of-66 (.758) in his last five games. In the first matchup with Virginia, without his point guard to feed him, he still scored 27 with nine rebounds.

With Williamson’s spectacular dunks and ACC scoring leader RJ Barrett, Duke’s defense hasn’t gotten as much attention. However, the Blue Devils have allowed just 57.5 ppg in the last four contests. They’re 35th nationally in scoring defense, despite playing the 18th fastest tempo in the country. No other top-40 defensive team is ranked higher than 116th in tempo.

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Of the 20 fastest tempo teams in the country, Duke (18th) is the only one ranked in the top 115 for scoring defense (35th).

Of the 40 best scoring defense teams, Duke (35th) is the only team ranked in the top 115 for fastest tempo (18th).#DukeMBBStats

— #DukeMBBStats (@DukeMBBStats) 7 de fevereiro de 2019
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The first game between these two teams was a classic, ending with a two-point Duke win. This one will likely be close as well. The last nine games between Duke and Virginia have been decided by a total of 42 points. The numbers all seem to be pointing toward Duke, which makes it tempting to go the other way and choose UVa. We’re following the evidence this time, though and picking Duke to take advantage of Virginia’s point guard woes and cover on the road in an Under.

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