XFactor: Duke basketball vs Virginia Tech

After surviving a tough road test against Wake Forest, the 14th-ranked Blue Devils will play their ACC home-opener against Virginia Tech Saturday at noon. Both teams enter the contest with 2-0 marks in conference play and Duke will look its explosive offensive to stay undefeated in conference play. Before each game, the Chronicle takes a look at one player from each team who could be the difference maker in the team's upcoming contest:

Duke: forward Marshall Plumlee

Look for Plumlee to bring his strong play back to Durham after a career night against the Demon Deacons that included 18 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting. The graduate student asserted his presence in the paint and notched a team-high seven rebounds while also delivering a highlight reel of emphatic dunks that energized his supporting cast. Plumlee’s continuing success will be essential to a Blue Devil victory as the team matches up against a Virginia Tech team that upset No. 4 Virginia in its most recent game.

The Hokies’ best post player—redshirt junior Zach LeDay—will give Plumlee plenty of trouble inside as he looks expose the defensive hole left by injured captain Amile Jefferson. LeDay has been the team’s leading scorer this season with an average of 14.7 points per game and is coming off of a team-best 22 points against the Cavaliers, meaning that Plumlee will need to play some of his best defense in order to stop Virginia Tech’s most consistent scorer. The Warsaw, Ind., native struggled to stop Wake Forest senior Devin Thomas and allowed the senior to go 9-of-11 from the field, and a similar defensive performance from Plumlee will not bode well for the Blue Devils as they aim for their third consecutive ACC victory of the season.

Virginia Tech: guard Seth Allen

After posting a disappointing 11-22 record last season, the Hokies have bounced back to begin this season at 10-5 thanks in part to the efforts of the Maryland transfer. The Woodbridge, Va., native has made an immediate impact on this year’s roster and is working his way toward the top of the team’s stat sheet by averaging 14.5 points per contest.

As the Hokies look to build upon head coach Buzz Williams’ biggest win since joining the team last season, Allen’s defense will be key to stopping Duke’s talented backcourt. Allen will certainly have his hands full as he tries to continue his aggressive scoring while dealing with a duo of Blue Devil guards playing at the top of their game. With sophomore Grayson Allen ranking second in scoring average among ACC players and freshman Luke Kennard coming off of a 23-point performance, Seth Allen will need to be relentless defensively. The Hokies have a chance to match last season’s win total with a victory against Duke, but it will be dependent on their guard having a standout night on both ends of the floor.

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