Ten Questions to Consider: Duke vs. Virginia Headlines This Weekend

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on January 26th, 2018

With no NFL action this weekend, Duke vs. Virginia should get the proper attention it deserves. That match-up of top-five teams leads 10 things that I will be paying attention to this weekend.

Duke Got the Best of Virginia in their Last Matchup (USA Today Images)

  1. Will Duke vs. Virginia come down to Duke’s offensive rebounding? In two ACC games against opponents with a top-10 offensive rebounding rate, Virginia allowed both to collect offensive rebounds more than 48 percent of the time. Even with a defensive efficiency that is better than any other team in the 17-year KenPom database, the nation’s best offensive rebounding team should give Virginia all it can handle.
  2. Is Notre Dame a strong Matt Farrell performance away from snapping out of its skid? After winning its first two games without the services of injured star Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame has now lost four straight games with Matt Farrell shooting 25 percent on his three-point attempts in his last two outings. Farrell’s 32.4 percent shooting from distance in conference play is down from a 45 percent clip a season ago. A hot-shooting Farrell is what Notre Dame needs to get back into the win column this weekend against Virginia Tech.
  3. Can Maryland show defensive signs of life against Michigan State? Maryland’s defense has fallen apart in Big Ten play, giving up 15 more points per 100 possessions than its season average. In its lopsided loss at Michigan State earlier this month, the Terrapins allowed the Spartans to shoot 57 percent on both two-point and three-point attempts. Maryland is 12-1 at home this season, but it will need a great defensive effort on Sunday to beat Michigan State.
  4. How will Villanova fare on the road at Marquette?  Last season, Villanova’s trip to Marquette ended with an upset loss as the Wildcats connected on just 6-of-34 attempts from beyond the arc. This season, Villanova is hoping to pull off the season sweep with a change of fortune at the Bradley Center. The key begins with slowing down the Golden Eagles’ scoring phenomenon, Markus Howard. The sophomore guard scored 37 points in the teams’ previous meeting, and has already gone for 30+ five times this season.
  5. Big 12/SEC Challenge, Part I: Is Florida a must-win for Baylor? On the season, Baylor has yet to score more than a point per possession in any of its five true road games. A loss to the Gators would put immense pressure on the Bears to get hot in the second half of conference play — they are currently 2-6 in the Big 12.
  6. Big 12/SEC Challenge, Part II: Is Kansas a must-win for Texas A&M? When SEC play began, the thought of Texas A&M falling from protected seed all the way down through the bubble would have been crazy. But now sitting at only 2-6 in conference play, the Aggies must find ways to immediately bolster their resume and a road win against Kansas would do just that. With another loss, Texas A&M will be climbing a steep hill with little room for error, as no SEC team with a losing record has been selected as an-large candidate in the last 17 years.
  7. Can Florida State earn a split against Miami? Despite being +16 on the offensive glass and breaking even in both three-pointers and turnovers, Florida State left its earlier match-up against Miami with a loss. In that game, Florida State leading scorer Terance Mann was held to just 10 points. Since then, Mann is averaging a robust 21 points over his last four games, including a 30-point explosion on Wednesday against Georgia Tech.
  8. Will Bucknell put a stranglehold on the top spot in the Patriot League? With a win over Boston University this weekend, Bucknell would therefore extend its Patriot League lead to a full two games. The importance of winning the regular season title is magnified in this league with the better seed hosting its own games in the Patriot League Tournament.
  9. Just how good is Purdue? Having now won 16 straight games since losing a pair in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving weekend, Purdue has risen to #3 in both national polls. The Boilermakers are only one of two teams to currently rank among the top 10 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they’re getting elite production from a pair of Edwards (Carsen and Vincent). The nation’s best three-point shooting team also boasts five players shooting better than 40 percent from distance with at least 70 attempts.
  10. How dangerous is USC moving forward? After a shaky 6-4 start that included a home loss to Princeton, USC has found its groove in Pac-12 play — sitting just a game behind Arizona in the conference standings. Now winners of five games in a row, the Trojans are being led by the play of Chimezie Metu and Jordan McLaughlin. USC is an athletic and improving team that few will want to see paired up with come this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Matthew Eisenberg (140 Posts)

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