The No. 5 Duke Blue Devils will take on the Virginia Commonwealth Rams as part of the 2K Classic in New York. Below is the Duke vs. VCU prediction and game preview.
Duke vs. VCU Game Preview
Date: Friday, Nov. 20
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
Why You Need To Care
Unless you’re an angry Wisconsin fan, still upset about last year’s national championship, or you go to that other big-time school in North Carolina — you know with another shade of blue — then there’s no reason not to watch a Duke game.
Mike Krzyzewski has once again recruited some of the most talented players in the country, and had it not been for Kentucky on Tuesday night, the Blue Devils would be undefeated instead of 2-1.
VCU is no slouch either, though. The Rams are 2-0 after beating Prairie View and Radford. First-year coach Will Wade will throw his eight upperclassmen up against Coach K’s highly touted young guns.
Why Duke Will Win
Let’s start with just pure athleticism. Derryck Thornton, Brandon Ingram, Chase Jeter and Grayson Allen all have a level of explosiveness to their games. But one big reason why Duke will win is because Allen won’t have two straight games of mediocre play. After going off for 54 points combined in the first two games, the sophomore guard shot just 18.2 percent from the field against the Wildcats. He’ll get back on track, and Duke will show off its No. 8 ranking in offensive rebounds (50). The Blue Devils will collect second-chance opportunities and flat-out beat the Rams off the dribble.
Why VCU Will Win
Don’t think that just because VCU is throwing older guys out on to the floor that experience is going to play a factor. Most of the time, experience is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact VCU ranks No. 10 in steals so far with 30. If the Rams backcourt can shadow Allen, Thornton and whoever else handles the rock at some point in the game, they’ll have to flash those active hands and force some turnovers. VCU needs to take as many fast break points as it can get, but a key will be how well it shoots from the outside. Duke allows the opposition to hit 44.2 percent from behind the arc, and the Rams have been shooting 42.6 percent so far. Move the ball on offense and space the floor. On defense, just try and make a play.
Players Who Matter
As mentioned before, it’s unlikely Allen has another bad showing tonight. But this could be a game for Thornton to display what he has to offer. He’s only averaged 5.3 points on 25 percent shooting in 23 minutes per game. Thornton needs to get it going if he wants to keep seeing the floor. It’ll be interesting to see what Marshall Plumlee does, too. He got off to a fast start crashing the offensive boards against Kentucky but cooled off before he finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Let’s see if he can make it two straight games with a double-double.
JeQuan Lewis … remember that name. The junior guard for the Rams is averaging 10.5 points and 7.5 assists per game. Offensively, he may need to shift his focus toward finding others in space rather than getting to the rim. He’ll need to take points where he can get them, but beating Duke means getting high-percentage shots and knocking them down. Defensively, he, Melvin Johnson and Doug Brooks are going to be the catalysts for forcing the Blue Devils to turn the ball over. All three are averaging 3 steals a game each, and they’ll need to pick pocket Allen, Matt Jones and Thornton to have a shot.
What’s Going To Happen?
Duke is going to come out hungry for a win after losing to Kentucky. Allen is going to be determined to bounce back from an off night, and the Blue Devils will protect the ball. Amile Jefferson and Plumlee will gobble up rebounds, and Lewis’s scoring won’t be enough to keep VCU in the game toward the end.
Duke vs. VCU Prediction
Line: Duke -9.5, o/u: 155