Duke trying to exorcise demons against Virginia Tech in Cassell Coliseum

Duke basketball center Vernon Carey Jr. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Duke basketball center Vernon Carey Jr. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Duke Basketball team will head to Blacksburg to try and exorcise some demons in Cassell Coliseum against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Friday night.

In recent years, Cassell Coliseum has been a house of horrors for the Duke Blue Devils.

Duke last won in Blacksburg in the 2014-15 season, in which the Blue Devils won the National Championship, and still needed overtime to do it.

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Since then it has been three straight losses for Duke in that very building, with the exception being the 2015-16 season when Duke did not travel to Blacksburg.

The Blue Devils and the Hokies met three times last season, Duke getting the advantage over Virginia Tech, winning in the regular season in Cameron Indoor Stadium and in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

However, while both teams are extremely different from last season, the argument can be made that the Hokies underwent more of a makeover in the offseason with head coach Buzz Williams departing for Texas A&M and the team only retaining three rotational players from a year ago.

Virginia Tech hired former Wofford head coach Mike Young and brought in a freshman class that has exceeded expectations so far.

Freshmen Landers Nolley II and Nahiem Alleyne have been leading the Hokies so far this season while Wabissa BedeP.J. Horne, and Isaiah Wilkins all return and are looking to make their presence know as well.

The biggest loss in the offseason may have been Kerry Blackshear‘s departure to Florida, but with the big man not in the paint for the Hokies anymore is a major relief for Duke and means one thing when the Blue Devils have the ball.

Feed Vernon Carey Jr.

Carey Jr. has posted seven straight double-doubles for the Blue Devils and has elevated his play in just about every game for Duke this season.

ALSO READ: Can Vernon continue to Carey the Blue Devils?

Listed at 6-foot-10, the Hokies do not have anyone that can physically match up with the Blue Devils freshman star although Virginia Tech does have a freshman of its own listed at 6-foot-10 in John Ojiako, but he only averages 13.3 minutes per game.

It was a sensational game for Duke on the offensive side of the ball and while the Blue Devils will look to carry that over to Friday night, two players struggled against Michigan State in Wendell Moore and Alex O’Connell.

If Duke is able to get those two players on track and the impending return of Cassius Stanley due to an injured hamstring, the Blue Devils will be a force to be reckoned with.

ALSO READ: Blue Devils should not rush Cassius Stanley back to game action

Defensively running Virginia Tech off the 3-point line will be paramount for the Blue Devils.

The Hokies take, and make, a lot of 3-pointers, shooting 43.1 percent from 3-point range and it has been a staple of Mike Young’s offense for years, just see his NCAA Tournament team in Wofford last season.

Virginia Tech is 6-2 this season and it has dropped two games in a row since its upset of the Michigan State Spartans, but the Hokies also have an ACC win under its belt, defeating the Clemson Tigers in the season opener.

Duke has the players and the tools to go into Blacksburg and win, but the question remains, will they?

The Blue Devils and Hokies tipoff at 7:00 pm EST inside what will be a rocking Cassell Coliseum and fans can see the game on the ACC Network.

PREDICTION: Duke 75, Virginia Tech 63