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Countdown to Tipoff: Previewing UVA and Duke

Two Juggernauts, Two Philosophies

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Cavaliers

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Charlottesville, VA

2017-2018 Record: 31-3, 17-1 in conference

Head Coach: Tony Bennett, 219-86 at UVA, 291-119 overall

Best Season: 1981 & 1984 – Final Four

Record vs. Jackets: 41-40

Pre-Season pick: 2nd in the ACC, 4th in the pre-season AP poll

Leading returning scorer: Kyle Guy, 14.1 points per game

What was a banner year for the Cavaliers was sullied by being the first one seed to lose to a sixteen seed in NCAA tournament history. The Hoos completed the rare double in 2017-2018, winning the ACC regular season and tournament title. Virginia returns the core of that squad; First Team All-ACC player Kyle Guy, Second Team All-ACC player Ty Jerome, Second Team All-ACC player De’Andre Hunter, making UVA the only school to have three different players on the pre-season All-ACC team. Look for Jack Salt, the only senior on the roster, to anchor the front court for the Cavaliers. The Jackets have struggled against the Cavs the last few seasons, I consider any game in which Tech scores more than 30 to be a win.

Duke Blue Devils

High School Basketball: McDonalds High School All American Games Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Durham, NC

2017-2018 Record: 29-8, 13-5 in conference

Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski 1027-279 at Duke, 1100-338 overall

Best Season: 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015 – National Champions

Record vs. Jackets: 72-23

Pre-Season pick: 1st in the ACC, 5th in the pre-season AP poll

Leading returning scorer: Javin DeLaurier, 3.4 points per game

The Blue Devils had fully bought into the one and done system in college basketball. Duke had the top recruiting class in 2018, signing three of the top five and five of the top 40 players in the country. Duke had the top three players in the ACC freshman of the year voting: RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish. The jewel of the class, RJ Barrett, has been named All-ACC first team, runner-up for ACC player of the year, and Freshman of the year before even putting on a Blue Devil’s uniform. Williamson was second team all-ACC and Reddish received votes for ACC player of the year. Tre Jones might not be the highest rated freshman, but he may be the most important as he looks to emulate his brother, Tyus Jones, and lead Duke to a national title. Look for sophomore Alex O’Connell to provide a spark off the bench; he shot 48.9% from behind the arc as a freshman.