Duke basketball vs. Virginia Tech: Scouting report, score prediction

Duke basketball passed an important ACC test over the weekend, defeating No. 17 Miami 68-66 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.

Now, the Blue Devils (14-5, 4-3) will try to find success in a place where success has mostly alluded them this season — the road.

A quick turnaround will take them to Blacksburg where they’ll face Virginia Tech (11-8, 1-7) at 7 p.m. Monday (ACCN), looking for a second road win in five tries.

Don’t let their record fool you, the Hokies came within a basket of knocking off of ACC leader Clemson at home on Saturday, a place where Duke lost by eight, 72-64, on Jan. 14.

Here’s what you need to know about Monday’s matchup:

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Logjam atop the ACC

There are still a dozen games left on the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule for Duke, but at the moment, there is very little separating the top teams in the standings.

Clemson still leads with an 8-1 record with Virginia right behind at 7-2. There are, however five teams — Miami, Wake Forest, UNC, Syracuse and Pitt — all at 6-3 with Duke sitting a half a game behind. NC State and Florida State are both 5-4.

For the Blue Devils to stay in contention for a second straight regular season title, they must avoid road losses to lower-tier teams, including against Virginia Tech and then later in the week against Georgia Tech (8-11, 1-8). Duke is 1-3 in true road games this season, with its one win coming in a 65-64 decision against Boston College on Jan. 7.

Dereck Lively surging?

The first person coach Jon Scheyer mentioned after his team held off Miami was freshman big man Dereck Lively II.

The 7-foot-1 potential lottery pick has underperformed to his expectations, averaging 4.0 points, 3.7 rebounds a game, but against Miami, Lively recorded his first double-digit rebounding game, including six on offense, while adding five blocked shots and six points.

“He’s been working his butt off every day with coach (Amile) Jefferson,” Scheyer said. “He keeps getting better.”

Lively’s production on the boards and defensively will play a huge factor in a potential postseason run for Duke. Even if he’s gotten off to a slow start, any progression at this point is a promising sign.

Hokies look to snap losing streak

After suffering a 51-50 loss to Clemson, Virginia Tech remained winless in 2023.

The Hokies have lost seven straight dating back to Dec. 21, but five of those losses have been by five points or less.

Virginia Tech has been strengthened by the return of senior guard Hunter Cattoor, who missed four games before coming back from injury during a loss to Virginia on Jan. 18.

Sean Pedulla leads the team with 15.9 points a game with senior forward Justyn Mutts averaging 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game.

Duke basketball vs. Virginia Tech predictions

Duke 68, Virginia Tech 59: It won’t be pretty. Duke will have to grind it out on the road, but the Blue Devils’ size in the interior and the return of junior guard Jeremy Roach will be too much for the Hokies.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Duke basketball vs. Virginia Tech: Scouting report, score prediction