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Monday previews: Duke-Va. Tech and Texas Tech-W.Va.

Greg Peterson  
VSiN.com

February 25, 2018 11:23 PM

Duke at Virginia Tech (7 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Opening Line: Duke -5.5
Offensive Efficiency: Duke #3, Virginia Tech #21
Defensive Efficiency: Duke #35, Virginia Tech #130
Rebound Rate: Duke #4, Virginia Tech #224
Percent of Shots are 3s: Duke #244, Virginia Tech #115
Free-Throw Shooting Percentage: Duke #182, Virginia Tech #201
Pace: Duke #85, Virginia Tech #144
Duke is playing its best basketball of the year, running off five straight wins both straight up and against the spread while Virginia Tech is hoping for a signature win to get itself off the NCAA Tournament bubble.

They have interesting parallels as both are good on the offensive end, but in different ways. Duke generates a lot of its offense inside, getting the ball in the paint to its forwards. Virginia Tech takes a bunch of mid- and long-range jumpers and gets into shootouts.

Duke had a relatively average defense in comparison to most Power 5 squads for most of the year, but it has played its best defense of the year the past five games. After giving up 69 against Georgia Tech in its first of four games with Marvin Bailey III, and has allowed 52.3 points per game in the four games since. The Blue Devils had allowed 70 or more points in seven of its most recent 11 games prior to this stretch.

Virginia Tech has been on a roller coaster of late, defeating Virginia in overtime on the road two weeks ago, but losing to Duke by 22 on Feb. 14. The 52-point total the Hokies had in that showdown is its lowest of the season.

For this contest to have a different result, Virginia Tech needs to do an all-around better job in the paint. Duke outrebounded the Hokies 36-19 and Virginia Tech drew just six fouls.

With Bagley back, Duke has even more fire power than it did in that first meeting, as the Blue Devils were forced to play a six-man rotation. The team also saw guard Grayson Allen have his best four-game stretch of ACC play with Bagley out. If this continues, Duke will set itself up to win and cover.

Texas Tech at West Virginia (9 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

Opening Line: West Virginia -5.5
Offensive Efficiency: Texas Tech #87, West Virginia #31
Defensive Efficiency: Texas Tech #4, West Virginia #18
Rebound Rate: Texas Tech #45, West Virginia #53
Percent of Shots are 3s: Texas Tech #258, West Virginia #125
Free-Throw Shooting Percentage: Texas Tech #206, West Virginia #19
Pace: Texas Tech #201, West Virginia #122

Texas Tech at this time last week was leading the Big 12 and was in position to dethrone Kansas. Now the Red Raiders will try to snap a three-game losing streak, playing a West Virginia squad that has won five of its last seven.

West Virginia lost to Texas Tech 72-71 when these two hooked up in Lubbock in January. Texas Tech shot much above its average at the free-throw line. The Mountaineers were unable to force Texas Tech into a ton of turnovers, which was a bit surprising given Texas Tech is right around the national average in its turnover numbers.

A hobbled Keenan Evans should help West Virginia given that he is Texas Tech's top scorer. Evans has been limited to a combined 12 points in the past three games due to injury, shooting a combined 3-for-19 from the floor. Given that Texas Tech plays a lot of isolation offense, it will put the ball in the hands of guys more prone to turn it over.

Both teams are solid on the glass. In West Virginia games, there are usually more offensive rebounds to be had given the way it scrambles games with its full-court press on defense.

Everyone raves about the Mountaineers' ability to create turnovers, but Texas Tech is also one of the best in the nation in that category. Both teams rank in the top five in the country in turnovers per possession forced, which makes it no surprise that both are among the nation's most efficient defenses.

West Virginia is not afraid to shoot 3s while Texas Tech does not take as many. The Mountaineers are incredibly streaky from beyond the arc and Texas Tech actually has a backcourt with guys that have shown the ability to convert 3s with regularity.

Though the injury of Evans hurt Texas Tech as a whole, he is one of the team's worst outside shooters. If Texas Tech decides to hoist a few more outside shots and can cash in, Texas Tech has a shot to sweep the regular-season series.

For West Virginia to win and cover, coach Bob Huggins' squad needs to find a way to hold Texas Tech under 70 points. West Virginia is 16-0 when holding teams to 70 points or fewer, and 5-8 when allowing more than 70. Given their deep stable of forwards, the Mountaineers will likely dare Texas Tech to beat them with outside shooting.

 

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