It’s Duke Vs. Virginia in the ACC Championship, two historic powerhouse conference foes set to battle it out. Duke may be the lower seed but have rounded into form in a late season push. They come into this one as a -2.5 favorite, looking to get their revenge after a controversial ending in their previous matchup. With Duke’s secondary scorers stepping up in a big way, my prediction is that they have the offensive firepower to crack Virginia’s defense and cover the spread.
Duke Vs. Virginia Prediction
The revitalization of Duke’s offense has been quite impressive given it looked like a lost cause at the midway point of the season. What was once a unit that solely went through big man Kyle Filipowski, now getting help from secondary scorers to burn defenses in multiple ways. Defenses can no longer just crash down on the big man, now needing to stretch out to guard at multiple levels.
Their ability to stretch out the defense has only helped Filipowski get more room to work with in the interior, playing as one of the most efficient low post scorers in basketball. His scoring prowess will be vital as Virginia is once again one of the better defenses in the nation. While not exactly at their standards in years past, Virginia still finished the season ranked 25th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom.
Virginia has maintained their defensive identity that has led them to a championship, being able to make shifts at a moment’s notice and have a hand in the shooter’s face at all times. They have an Opposing Effective Field Goal Percentage of 48.3% yet have knocked that number down to 44.4% in conference tournament play. That number is good for top-80 in the nation per TeamRankings.
In order to beat Virginia’s defense, Filipowski will need to find interior success and suck down the defensive attention. He has the size to abuse smaller forwards and skill to get past Virginia’s bigs, being in a position to find consistent scoring success. When Virginia clamps down, this opens gaps for the surging secondary scorers of Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor to exploit. Mark Mitchell has also stepped up, playing as Duke’s lethal jump shooter with a 37.3 completion percentage from deep.
Duke Vs. Virginia Prediction: Duke -2.5
Duke Vs. Virginia Odds
Just because they are the lower seed doesn’t mean that they are the underdog in this matchup as oddsmakers opened the four seed Blue Devils as a -2.5 favorite. Bettors also believe in the Duke’s ability to get their revenge, taking them up to -3 in some shops as of writing. Their ability to find consistent scoring success will make or break their chances of winning, taking advantage of the lack of possessions from Virginia’s style of play by capitalizing with a fast-scoring pace.
As for the total, points are expected to come at a premium as oddsmakers opened the number at 123.5. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either side of the number, keeping the current total the same as the opener. A slow, methodical, defensive slugfest is in store when these two teams meet as both of them play at some of the slowest paces in the nation. Duke ranks 292nd in Adjusted Tempo while Virginia clocks in at 360th per Kenpom.
Duke Vs. Virginia Key Matchups
Duke perimeter defense vs Virginia three-point shooting
In order to secure their chances of winning, Duke will need to capitalize on their ability to cover the perimeter. This was a major weakness in halfcourt sets last season, now turning it into a strength by ranking 26th in Opponent Three Point Percentage by holding opposing offenses to a lowly 30.7%.
Like their defense, Virginia’s offense retains their identity by playing at a snail’s pace and generating the best look possible from deep. Through elite facilitation, Virginia constantly shifts defenses until they exploit the gap for a high-quality look at the basket.
Their pace is their own worst enemy as that gives them limited possessions to work with. Should Duke be able to smother their looks and force them into bad shot selections then the Blue Devils can run away with this.
Back Duke at no higher than -3.5 as they look to get their revenge against the Cavaliers. Duke should have no issue finding consistent scoring opportunities, setting a scoring pace that is too fast for Virginia with their limited number of possessions.