As each of the nation’s top four teams lost last week, No. 5 Duke managed to get through the week unscathed, putting it back atop the polls for the first time since losing to Florida State on Jan. 12.
Just in time for a visit to Blacksburg.
The Blue Devils (26-2, 12-1 ACC) will take on a Virginia Tech team in need of a signature victory. “We’ve done it before,” said Malcolm Delaney, senior point guard, in reference to Tech knocking off a No. 1 team. Two years ago, the team traveled to Winston-Salem and took down No. 1 Wake Forest, 78-71.
The leading scorer in that game still wears No. 23 for the Hokies. He’ll need to have a big game on Saturday if Tech is to stand a chance.
“We’re going to try,” said Seth Greenberg, head coach. “We’ll show up. (Duke’s) a special team. They’re coached by a brilliant coach, and they play harder than anyone. We’re going to compete. I guarantee you that. We’ll play hard, but we’ve got to play smart and we’ve got to play well. That’ll be the challenge.”
The Hokies (18-8, 8-5 ACC) will need impressive performances, not only from Delaney, but from the entire team.
Jeff Allen’s double-double streak ended at seven games after Tuesday’s victory over Wake Forest.
He and Victor Davila should be up to the task of containing Duke’s frontcourt, as big men Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly only average a combined 15 points per game.
But containing the dynamic duo of Kyle Singler and Naismith candidate and ACC Player of the Year shoo-in Nolan Smith is a different story.
Despite averaging 17.2 points per game, Singler’s season has been considered a disappointment by critics and Blue Devil fans alike. But, he still has the ability to take over a game, as he showed time after time last year during Duke’s national title run.
Smith leads the ACC in points (21.4) and assists (5.3), and has been the driving force behind this Blue Devil team all year. Coach Mike Krzyzewski recently compared him to the likes of former Duke greats Luol Deng, J.J. Redick, Jayson Williams and Christian Laettner.