Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils have just two losses this season, falling at Ohio State (85-63) in late November and then to Temple (78-73) just a week ago. The loss to the Owls had very few lingering effects, as Duke opened ACC play this past weekend with an 81-74 road win at Georgia Tech.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers are one of the big surprises this year. Virginia is 14-1 on the season, its best start since going 27-1 to open the 1981-82 campaign. The lone loss came in mid-November to TCU (57-55). Since then, the Cavaliers have reeled off 12 straight wins, including opening league play on Saturday, with a hard-fought 52-51 victory over Miami-Florida.
This marks the 163rd meeting between these two rivals. Duke holds a sizeable 114-48 advantage and has won seven straight and 16 of the last 17 matchups.
Tony Bennett brought his defensive philosophy to Charlottesville and the Cavaliers have bought in hook, line and sinker. Virginia is one of the top defensive teams in the country, limiting foes to a mere 50.5 ppg (second nationally) on .380 shooting, including a meager .270 from three-point range. It also helps to have one of the ACC's top frontcourt players in senior forward Mike Scott. The ACC's active leader in scoring, rebounding and double- doubles, Scott paces Virginia this year with 16.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Guards Joe Harris and Sammy Zeglinski provide perimeter balance with 12.3 and 9.9 ppg, respectively. Virginia kept its win streak going with a one- point win over the Hurricanes last time out. The Cavaliers were held to a mere .382 shooting, but committed just seven turnovers. Scott was the only Cav that was immune to the poor performance, netting 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds to power the Cavaliers to victory.
Duke has the ability to win at either end of the floor, but it is the team's offensive proficiency that has been the key factor. The Blue Devils are among the nation's top scoring teams, averaging 82.1 ppg on a hefty .498 shooting. Freshman guard Austin Rivers has made an immediate impact in Durham, averaging a team-high 14.7 ppg. Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly add perimeter depth at 12.9 and 12.6 ppg, respectively. The trio are all shooting over 40 percent from three-point range, combining for 70 of the team's 121 three-pointers to date. Mason Plumlee is the resident muscle down low, shooting a scorching .619 from the field, averaging 11.7 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds per game. Duke didn't have its best shooting performance in Atlanta last time out, but still posted a seven-point win over the Yellow Jackets. Kelly used a perfect 14- of-14 from the free-throw line to pace the Blue Devils with 21 points. Curry added 15 points and freshman Quin Cook chipped in with 10.