When the Blue Devils play the Cavaliers in Charlottesville Thursday, it will be a battle between two teams that each have reasons to be confident in their ability to pull out a victory.
Duke is coming off two straight blowouts, against Virginia Tech and BC, and probably playing its best defense since Ryan Kelly got hurt. Virginia is coming off a blowout win of its own, against Georgia Tech, and well aware of the fact that all three of Duke’s loses this season have come on the road.
If Virginia can pull off the upset, the Cavaliers are positioned to overtake North Carolina for third in the conference and it would help make a case for a better seed in the NCAA tournament. Duke, meanwhile, need the win to keep alive the tiny possibility of tying Miami for an ACC regular season title and to keep the Blue Devils in the running for a No. 1 seed come March.
With a lot on the line, the game will come down to a contest of styles as Virginia will attempt to slow the game to crawl. Solving that slow-down system will be essential for a Duke win, so here are five keys for a Blue Devil victory in Charlottesville.