Virginia vs. Duke Best Bet: The Rematch of the Day

Will Duke bounce back in the rematch? Our guy Ben Rajavuori makes his prediction for this matchup.
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Virginia vs. Duke Best Bet: The Rematch of the Day

Today's college basketball slate is packed with 64 games, perhaps none more intriguing than number seven ranked Duke traveling to Charlottesville tonight to take on Virginia. This is the second meeting of the year, and I'm sure Duke hasn't washed the taste from the first out of their mouths. Virginia was able to steal one from Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium back on February 7 thanks to a three-pointer from Reece Beekman with only three seconds left to lift Virginia to a one-point win. Will Duke get their revenge today?

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Virginia vs. Duke Prediction

Duke has had a wonderful bounce-back season after finishing just .500 on the season last year, and it's in large part thanks to the success of Paolo Banchero. The 6'10", 250-pound freshman is averaging 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and is projected to go top five in the 2022 NBA draft. He is not alone, though. Support players Wendell Moore and Mark Williams also help elevate this offense. However, Duke needs their stars to play better in this rematch to even the season series. Banchero and Moore combined for only 18 points in the first meeting, and they are typically the two leading scorers. Duke as a team shot about 10% below their season average and had fifteen turnovers.

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Duke's offense has thrived off scoring inside and getting second-chance points, something they couldn't do in the first meeting. I expect them to succeed the second time around, as shots weren't falling in the first meeting. Duke is coming off four straight wins while shooting almost 55% inside in those games, so they have good offensive momentum coming into this one.

The biggest storyline tonight for Virginia is the status of Junior Armaan Franklin. He suffered a toe injury recently and is a game-time decision for tonight. This takes out a significant chunk from Virginia's scoring and defense if he can't go. Franklin averages 11.6 points per game, second on the team, and he forces almost two turnovers per game himself on defense. This is something to watch closely over the next few hours, but he probably won't get his full playing time even if he does play.

Duke needs to get back to their style of play tonight to win. Virginia is a team with a bleeding-slow pace that uses defense to dominate and win. Coach K is one of the best, if not the best, coaches in college basketball, and he can certainly make the adjustment to get his players back on track tonight. There's a reason why Duke is still giving five points on the road even after losing straight up at home to Virginia earlier in the month. I highly doubt Banchero and Moore will have a shooting performance as bad as they did last time. I expect Duke to attack the paint and get second-chance points tonight as usual. They are the more talented team all around, and given the status of Armaan Franklin, Banchero should have a big night here.

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It took essentially perfect circumstances for Virginia to win the first time out in a game they shot well above their average, while Duke shot well below theirs. I don't think Virginia can rely on another cold game from the Duke playmakers, and if Duke can try to push the tempo to get Virginia out of their comfortable play-style, they should win and cover tonight. Take Duke to get revenge and even the season series.

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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