NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Pick – #4 Virginia Tech vs #1 Duke
Can Hokies Beat Blue Devils a Second Time in 2019?
Our Virginia Tech vs Duke preview and pick has the Blue Devils at -7.0. The Virginia Tech vs Duke Sweet 16 tipoff is scheduled for Friday, March 29 at 7:39 pm ET. The two teams will meet in this East Region game at the Capital One Center in Washington, D.C. To recap the Sweet 16 thus far, in the first day, the Gonzaga Bulldogs covered against Florida State. Virginia beat the Oregon Ducks but did not cover. Two of the underdogs won their way into the Elite Eight. The Purdue Boilermakers took down the Tennessee Volunteers 99-94. Plus, the Texas Tech Red Raiders were victorious over the Michigan Wolverines 63-44. All of those developments make today’s games even more interesting.
Virginia Tech Hokies
In the first round of the 2019 NCAAM Tournament, the Virginia Tech Hokies (26-8) beat the 13th-seed St. Louis Billikens 66-52. The Hokies dominated SLU in the first half and came out for the second half with a 32-point lead. And although the Billikens closed the gap in a second part of the game, they never did get close to VT. Our Virginia Tech vs Duke preview notes that the Hokies had a tougher time with the 12th-seed Liberty Flames. At the end of the first half, the Flames were on top 32-29. In the second half, with 7:36 to go, this was still a very close game with the score standing at VT 52 and Liberty 49. But at about the six-minute mark, the Hokies pulled away for good winning 67-58. Thus far Virginia Tech has shot well from the arc, hitting 42% of their attempts. They also completed about 42% of their shots from the field, while the Hokies were successful in converting 78.2% of their free throws. They’ve also been good for 10.5 APG, 9.5 SPG, and 31.5 RPG.
VT front man Kerry Blackshear Jr. is an important force on this team. He’s averaging 17 PPG. Forward Ty Outlaw is a double-double guy who’s averaging 8.5 points and rebounds per game. Guard Ahmed Hall has been this team’s most consistent scorer, hitting for 10 points in game one and 14 in game two. Guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 20 versus the Billikens but put up just six versus the Liberty. This is a smart and fast team that rarely fouls or turns the ball over.
Duke Blue Devils
Although the Duke Blue Devils (31-65) took down 16th-seed North Dakota State soundly, 85-62, they did not beat the spread. In fact, they let the Bison stick around longer than anyone thought they would, as Duke led by just four points at the half. However, a few minutes into the second, the Blue Devils did start to pull away from NDSU. Just about everyone agrees that Duke was lucky to have survived the second round. The fact is the ninth-seed UCF Panthers almost knocked them out of the 2019 NCAAM Tournament. It went down to the wire with the final score being Duke 77 and Central Florida 76. What are some of the problems this team is dealing with? Our Virginia Tech vs Duke preview finds that the Blue Devils have a tough time connecting on their free throws. The team success-rate us 62.5%. The other problem this team has is in the area of committing fouls. Although they are averaging just seven turnovers per game, Duke is committing 16 PFs per contest. In other shooting categories, they’ve performed well. From the floor, the Blue Devils are solid (48%), and Duke’s three-point rate is a sound 41%. The Blue Devils are also averaging 37 RPG, 14.5 APG, 7.0 STPG, and 5.0 BPG.
The guys to watch are the three forwards who are led by Zion Williamson. In the tournament, Williamson has been good for 28.6 PPG and seven rebounds. RJ Barrett, also a forward, is averaging 11 RPG and 21 PPG. Cam Reddish is nailing 12.5 PPG. At guard, Tre Jones has been good for 8.5 PPG and 4.0 APG.
NCAAM Sweet 16 Virginia Tech vs Duke Preview – Our Pick
Remember that VT beat Duke late last February 77-72. Plus, the Blue Devils have looked vulnerable in the tournament. Duke does have massive frontcourt. But their guard spots are weak, and the Blue Devil free throw rate has been problematic. Our Virginia Tech vs Duke preview is going with VT to keep it close. We like the Hokies at +7.0.