There are only three ACC teams senior Grayson Allen has never lost to in his Duke career—Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Virginia.

The obvious outlier in that group is the Cavaliers, a steady powerhouse under head coach Tony Bennett that is 48-11 against conference opponents besides the Blue Devils since Allen arrived for the 2014-15 season. All three games between Virginia and Duke since then could have gone either way, with Duke needing a double-digit comeback on the road against the then-undefeated Cavaliers to spark its 2015 national championship run and getting a buzzer-beater from Allen at Cameron a year later.

But every time, Virginia's pack-line defense has barely failed to get the critical stops it prides itself on down the stretch.

"Every single game was one possession from never beating them, so it’s always been a fight. They’re a great team," Allen said Friday afternoon. "My freshman year, Tyus [Jones] was our success at the end of the game, and Jayson [Tatum] obviously last year was huge toward the end of the game, but we just have to move the ball."

This year may be the best version of the Cavaliers' defense in all of Bennett's nine years in Charlottesville. No other Division I team is anywhere near Virginia in basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency ratings, and the second-ranked Cavaliers have exceeded all expectations after losing their top two scorers from last season.

"You’re never going to get a break. You’re not going to get a soft trap," Allen said. "We’re going to have to pass and move out of it. That’s really what makes their defense work so well. All teams can have a few defensive possessions here and there, but they’re very sharp and locked in to what they do."

Bennett's system has a defender apply pressure on the ball-handler, with the four other defenders on the floor sagging into the paint to eliminate easy buckets and force teams to slow down and take jump shots. The Blue Devils' emphasis on playing through Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. in the post could play into Virginia's hands, though Bagley and Carter will have a size and talent advantage on the boards as well. 

Every rebound and every shot will matter a little but more than usual since Virginia plays at the slowest pace in the nation, decreasing the number of possessions in its games.

"We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to limit our turnovers. We have to value the ball every possession. A game like this could come down to it in the last few minutes," Bagley said. "Every possession counts. I think we’re understanding that and doing a great job in practice of not turning the ball over."

Not to be taken lightly, the Cavaliers' offense is also one of the more efficient units in the ACC. Although they average fewer than 70 points per game, their numbers are deflated by their pace of play, and guards Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and Devon Hall can each be lights-out shooters from deep.

"They’re very deliberate with their offense. Everything they do serves a purpose. They’re very sharp on their screens. A lot of times they catch guys sleeping because they’ll work the whole possession to get a really good shot," Allen said. "It's a different game than most teams we play."