At full strength, Duke and Va. Tech prepare for all-ACC Sweet Sixteen showdown

WASHINGTON, DC (WTVD) -- When last we saw Duke and Virginia Tech, Cassell Coliseum was rocking and the Hokies had yet another home win over the Blue Devils, something that's become a regular occurrence of late. There were of course two major missing pieces that day.

The clear storyline headed into Friday night's all-ACC Sweet Sixteen showdown between the Devils and Hokies is the return of both Zion Williamson and Justin Robinson.

One is the Godzilla of college hoops, the other a slick-handling and shooting point guard that adds yet another weapon to an already multi-faceted offense. So how will their additions change this second meeting?

"I think it will be somewhat similar because we're both really good defensively. And adding two of the best players in Zion and Justin will only make it better," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.



Hokes coach Buzz Williams also wasn't sure.

"It's hard to say, obviously. We don't have evidence of it," Williams said. "When we played them, I think it was their second full game playing without No. 1. I think he's the best player in the country. I think Coach is the best coach ever in college basketball. But two games in, I don't know that schematically they had changed much ...

But it's hard to say what the difference is other than two teams have both added two really important cogs to their roster."

What jumps off the page is the importance of the 3-point shot in this game. Duke only hits 30 percent of its attempts, and it almost cost the Devils their tournament lives vs UCF.

Virginia Tech's zone is geared to making teams take 3s. In fact, more than 50 percent of opponent attempts vs the Hokies this year were from behind the line. That's the second highest percentage in the country and that's obviously a bear trap that Duke needs to avoid. Having a lane-invading bull like Zion will certainly help.



On the flipside, there was no more prolific 3-point shooting team in the ACC this year than Virginia Tech. The Hokies have hit 318 3s so far this season, shooting at a near 40 percent clip as a team. The catch here -- Duke's 3-point defense is far better than its shooting -- the Devils hold opponents to under 30 percent from 3.

Boiled down, Duke needs to attack the paint and count on its perimeter defense to keep the Hokies from catching fire outside. That's not a guarantee of victory, but it would sure go a long way.

Two fun subplots - RJ Barrett vs Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Not a positional battle, but two of the premier Canadian talents in the college game battling for ultimate bragging rights.

Robinson's added ballhandling skills vs. Duke's pressure game. Every Tech player spoke of the importance of avoiding live-ball turnovers against the Devils. Cough up the rock and the Duke highlight reel gets some new clips.

There is a multitude of talented NBA-caliber players on both sides. Kerry Blackshear obviously jumps off the page for VT. The guess here though is that Duke's firepower is just a bit too much for the Hokies to handle this time.
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