Beats' picks: Will No. 10 Duke men's basketball exact revenge on Virginia after 2 years of heartbreaking defeats?

Jeremy Roach's consistent scoring will be crucial against Virginia's elite defense.
Jeremy Roach's consistent scoring will be crucial against Virginia's elite defense.

No. 10 Duke faces its third-to-last game of the season Saturday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Virginia, a foe which has proved tough to overcome the past couple seasons. The Chronicle’s beat writers are here to offer their predictions on whether the Blue Devils can get it done this time around:

Andrew Long: Duke 60-56

The story of Saturday night’s game will naturally turn to a drastic difference in playstyle between the Blue Devils and Cavaliers. The former knows how to, and frequently does, shoot the brakes off its opponents, while the latter is one of the country’s best teams at forcing adversaries to play gritty, ugly and take poor shots. We saw this last year at John Paul Jones Arena, where the Cavaliers made just nine of their 22 shots from the line and scored just 58 points in regulation, but completely snuffed Kyle Filipowski out and held the Blue Devils below 30% from deep.

It’s reasonable to expect something similar from Virginia this time around. But Duke is a far more well-oiled machine now than it was 12 months ago on the offensive end, with a wider range of producers beyond just Filipowski and Jeremy Roach. Jared McCain has repeatedly proven himself as a potent scoring threat while Mark Mitchell has made vast strides in his sophomore season. So while Virginia has been a bit of a bogey team for Duke the last couple seasons, I think the Blue Devils finally hit par this time around, simply by outscoring the visitors, even at a lower-than-usual volume.

Rachael Kaplan: Virginia 64-61

Maybe Reece Beekman’s game-winner from two years ago in Cameron Indoor Stadium is just forever burned into my brain, but the Cavaliers seem to always give the Blue Devils trouble, no matter where the game is played. Duke got its revenge after the scandal in Charlottesville, Va., last season, so while that wound may still feel fresh to fans, I don’t see it carrying nearly the same weight it did in the ACC title game just more than a year ago. Virginia’s defensive prowess is undeniable, and could very well stunt a Blue Devil offense that is still adjusting to a rotation without Caleb Foster. TJ Power, Sean Stewart and Jaylen Blakes have their moments, but against an ACC powerhouse, giving any of them significant minutes would be a new move by head coach Jon Scheyer. The defensive pressure and increased intensity proves too much, and Duke drops its penultimate home game. 

Mackenzie Sheehy: Duke 66-59

Saturday’s contest presents the Blue Devils with the perfect opportunity to get a confidence-building win heading into their rematch with the Tar Heels next weekend. Especially after the loss and ensuing chaos of Wake Forest seven days prior, a key ACC win heading into the postseason is just what the doctor ordered for Duke. However, it will be a tall task. Virginia, although performing below its typical caliber, has played decently well in recent games, most notably in a 49-47 win against the Demon Deacons at home. Couple that with the loss of Foster, and the matchup could be a close one. Despite these factors, the Blue Devils have the overpowering offensive talent to send the Cavaliers packing. As long as Duke does not offer up too many points off turnovers and plays with its signature defensive energy, the Cameron Crazies will be roaring with approval when the final buzzer sounds.

Ranjan Jindal: Duke 67-55

Virginia has been playing well as of late, but its body of work on the road has not been as impressive, especially in ACC play. Cameron Indoor will be its toughest environment yet, and while the Cavaliers are really well coached, the bunch has struggled to produce outside John Paul Jones Arena. Yes, Virginia is a tough matchup for a lot of teams, but I think the Blue Devils’ recent 3-point prowess will help the team spread out the pack-line defense for Virginia. I think Roach will be the key for Duke because he is shooting at such a high percentage, and when he is aggressive offensively, this team is hard to stop. Many of the Cavaliers’ losses have been large blowouts, and while I don’t necessarily think this will be one of those, it could get ugly if Virginia is cold from the field. 

Dom Fenoglio: Duke 58-52

The last time the Cavaliers came into Cameron Indoor, Beekman hit a heartbreaking last-second three to silence the home crowd and help Virginia pull off the upset. In order to prevent a second coming of that outing, the Blue Devils will need to play clean basketball since the Cavaliers thrive off poor offensive possessions. Duke has had its fair share of close games this year, and even after sophomore point guard Tyrese Proctor botched the final play of the game last weekend against Wake Forest, I have faith in the Blue Devils’ late-game execution. I think this will be a classic Virginia low-scoring affair, but that the home squad will put together a string of late-game makes to come out on top.

Sophie Levenson: Duke 69-60

The Cavaliers simply don’t have the output that the Blue Devils do. In three of its last four games, Virginia scored fewer than 50 points; Duke, on the other hand, hasn’t been held to fewer than 70 since a Jan. 6 game at Notre Dame. It’s true that both schools excel on the backcourt: Beekman, Isaac McKneely and Ryan Dunn take charge for the Cavaliers much like Roach, Proctor and McCain do for the Blue Devils — but all three of Duke’s guards beat out their Virginian counterparts when it comes to points per game. 

The Blue Devils are also simply on a roll. Their only fault since losing to North Carolina has been at Wake Forest, where Hunter Sallis put up 29 points and dominated his home court while still only edging Duke by four. The Blue Devils look like a strong team — and a strong tournament team. Virginia looks good too, but not Beekman-2022-good.

Jonathan Levitan: Duke 73-62

It is usually unwise to read too much into good games against bad teams, but I thought that Duke’s Wednesday win against Louisville was promising in more ways than one. The job that Roach, Proctor and McCain did in the backcourt assuaged my initial concern that the absence of the ever-steady Foster would throw things out of balance. Guard play remains a strength, even with Scheyer leaning into the frontcourt a bit.

But the real reason I am bullish on Duke’s chances Saturday boils down to Mitchell. In the past two regular seasons, Virginia has managed to totally shut down Duke’s star frontcourt scorers: Paolo Banchero’s only two single-digit scoring nights came against the Cavaliers, and Filipowski was held scoreless (controversially) in last year’s trip to Charlottesville, Va. What Mitchell’s heightened play brings to the frontcourt will help the Blue Devils penetrate Virginia’s typically excellent pack-line defense.

Micah Hurewitz: Duke 71-58

Defense, meet offense. The Blue Devils have gotten back on their horse after the tight loss at Wake Forest and have proven to be a very strong shooting team. Duke has scored 71 points or more in 27 of its 28 games this season, while Virginia has topped that mark just 10 times this season and only three times on the road. Notably, the Cavaliers recently broke free from a historic rut on the offensive end (44.7 points per game from Feb. 17-24) with a four-point win against Boston College. But Duke’s defense — especially its defensive rebounding — will severely limit second-chance opportunities for head coach Tony Bennett’s squad and the Blue Devils hold an advantage from beyond the arc. Beekman will be back to try to recreate his heroics from the 2022 matchup at Cameron Indoor, but this will more likely than not be yet another opportunity to pad the resume for the Blue Devils and the last-ditch effort to secure a spot in the tournament field for Virginia.

Jonathan Levitan

Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity senior and was previously sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

Micah Hurewitz

Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity senior and was previously a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

Rachael Kaplan profile
Rachael Kaplan | Sports Managing Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

Dom Fenoglio | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Dom Fenoglio is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

Sophie Levenson | Sports features editor

Sophie Levenson is a Trinity sophomore and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

Andrew Long profile
Andrew Long | Sports Editor

Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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