Second-ranked Virginia has made defense fashionable and puts its undefeated record on the line when it hosts No. 4 Duke on Saturday. The Cavaliers are 19-0 — he best start in school history since the 1980-81 Final Four team opened 23-0 — and have allowed only three opponents to score more than 56 points following a 50-47 victory at Virginia Tech on Sunday. “We build on each stop we get, and then it builds our offense and gets our offense going,” junior Malcolm Brogdon told The Cavalier Daily. “I also think our fans get into it. They love the stops just as much as they love the scoring, so that’s really tremendous for us.”
Virginia, which leads the nation in scoring defense at 49.2 points per game, enters the toughest stretch of its schedule with games at No. 14 North Carolina (Monday) and versus No. 9 Louisville (Feb. 7) looming. Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski on Thursday made a stunning announcement that junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon has been dismissed from the team for being “unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program.” Sulaimon averaged 7.5 points this season while coming off the bench in all 20 games because of the emergence of freshmen Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow after starting a combined 50 contests in his first two seasons, including 33 as a freshman.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Duke and Virginia are two of the best teams in the country. Duke comes into this game off a loss at Notre Dame, so we can expect the Blue Devils to bring a big effort. However, Duke did lose back-to-back games earlier this season, so it wouldn’t be a shock if they lost here, especially since they are an extremely young team. Virginia plays a slow, half-court style that historically has given Duke fits. However, Duke is a perfect 6-0 SU in games this season in which they and their opponent scored 75 points or less, so they are not without a shot in a slow-paced game. The Cavaliers are an exceptional defensive team while the same cannot be said of Duke, and in high profile games like this, the better defensive team usually wins out.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril
ABOUT DUKE (17-3 SU, 10-9-1 ATS, 11-7 O/U): The Blue Devils must do a better job converting opportunities to score as they totaled nine second-chance points off 13 offensive rebounds and made 10-of-20 free throws in Wednesday’s 77-73 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame. Jahlil Okafor, a 6-11 freshman and national player of the year candidate, leads Duke in scoring (18.7 points per game) and rebounding (9.4), but shoots 56.2 percent from the line. Senior Quinn Cook averages 14.3 points while Jones (10.9) is second in the ACC at five assists and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9).
ABOUT VIRGINIA (19-0 SU, 12-5 ATS, 5-8-1 O/U): The Cavaliers dominate defensively, but an efficient offense — 34th in the nation in field-goal percentage at 47.3 percent — also plays a key role. Justin Anderson, a 6-6 junior guard, averages 13.9 points and is one of three players scoring in double figures, joining Brogdon (13.3) and junior Anthony Gill (11.3 points, team-high 6.7 rebounds). Sophomore London Perrantes (team-best 4.4 assists) boasts a 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, second in the ACC.
*Blue Devils are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. Atlantic Coast.
*Cavaliers are 13-2-1 ATS in their last 16 games following a ATS loss.
*Over is 8-2 in Blue Devils last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
*Under is 5-0-1 in Cavaliers last 6 overall.