The Blue Devils have won two straight games and now have an above .500 record at 9-8. They will need to finish the season on a high note to earn a bid for the March Madness tournament for the 25th straight year.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Cavaliers are first in the ACC but are coming off a loss to the Florida State Seminoles in their latest outing.
Fixture: Virginia Cavaliers vs. Duke Blue Devils - NCAA Men's Basketball
Date and Time: Saturday, February 20, 8:00 PM ET
Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
Duke Blue Devils Preview
The Duke Blue Devils desperately need a quality win if they are to convince the college basketball committee that they deserve a bid for the March Madness tournament this season. They have gone 0-3 against ranked teams this season.
However, things are looking up for the Blue Devils, who are rolling into Saturday's matchup against the Virginia Cavaliers with confidence. They have reset themselves defensively after allowing 83.7 points per game during their recent three-game skid. They bounced back with back-to-back wins, where they held their opponents to 56.3 points and just 21.1% from three.
Key Player - Matthew Hurt
Matthew Hurt is the biggest threat for the Duke Blue Devils on offense. The sophomore guard has scored 46 points in his previous two games. He will need to keep a hot hand against the Virginia Cavaliers now that Jalen Johnson has decided to opt out for the remainder of the college basketball season.
Hurt went on the record earlier this week stating that he supports Johnson's decision and is proud of him, via Brendan Marks:
Duke Blue Devils' Predicted Lineup
F Wendell Moore Jr., F Matthew Hurt, C Mark Williams, G DJ Steward, G Jeremy Roach
Virginia Cavaliers Preview
The Virginia Cavaliers were embarrassed in their last outing against the Florida State Seminoles, losing 81-60. It was the Cavaliers' worst ACC loss in four years.
The 2019 national champions were extremely sluggish throughout the game and lacked effort on the defensive end of the floor. They allowed Florida State to shoot 50% from the field and convert on 13 of their 24 three-pointers.
Here's what Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after his team's disappointing performance:
"You've got to be all the time good in the areas that you have control over. You can't control if they can make the big-time shot or an acrobatic play, but we can control if our defense is set."
This is only the Virginia Cavaliers' second loss in the ACC. They will likely not drop too far in the rankings during next week's AP Top-25 Poll if they can take care of business against the Duke Blue Devils.
Key Player - Kihei Clark
Kihei Clark is the playmaker for the Virginia Cavaliers. He leads the team in assists, averaging 4.6 a game.
However, Clark has been sloppy with the ball in his recent performances and is giving up crucial turnovers. In the last two games, he had a total of seven turnovers, giving him an individual turnover ratio of 25.03%.
Virginia Cavaliers' Predicted Lineup
F Jay Huff, F Trey Murphey III, F Sam Hauser, G Kihei Clark, G Reece Beekman
Virginia vs Duke Match Prediction
The Duke Blue Devils will come out with high energy as this game is essentially a must-win if they are to make the NCAA postseason without winning the ACC Tournament. If they can continue their improved defensive efficiency, they will have the edge in Saturday's game.
According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Duke Blue Devils have just a 37.1% chance of beating the Virginia Cavaliers this weekend.
Where to watch Virginia vs Duke
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.