Virginia Tech-Duke Preview

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has a successful approach to the ACC

tournament. What he won’t have is starting forward Ryan Kelly.

The sixth-ranked Blue Devils will be without Kelly for the

entire tournament as they chase a fourth straight title beginning

Friday night in Atlanta against Virginia Tech.

Kelly sprained his right foot Tuesday during practice and will

be re-evaluated March 12. The 6-foot-11 junior averages 11.8 points

and 5.4 rebounds.

Krzyzewski, in search of his 14th ACC tournament title, isn’t

necessarily worried about playing three games in three days.

“You’ve got to plan like you’re playing the one game, play ’em

one at a time,” Krzyzewski said.

These teams met in the semifinals last year in their lone

previous ACC tournament matchup, with Duke (26-5) winning 77-63.

The Blue Devils haven’t lost in this event since a 78-74 semifinal

defeat to Clemson in 2008.

“It really doesn’t matter who we play,” Krzyzewski said. “The

road to a championship is going to be a difficult one because it

will start off with a real tough game and if you’re fortunate to go

to Saturday and Sunday, we’ve got a chance to play the top teams in

the conference.”

While Krzyzewski isn’t looking past Virginia Tech (16-16), his

players have their eyes set on a possible meeting with No. 4 North

Carolina in the championship game after the Tar Heels captured the

regular-season title with an 88-70 win last Saturday in Durham.

“Hopefully, we’ll win our first two games, and I hope we see

Carolina again,” guard Seth Curry said. “Go in there and try to win

the championship. You want to put a banner up. That’s your goal

coming into the season, and we didn’t do that in the regular

season, so hopefully we can do that in the postseason.”

Duke’s Austin Rivers was named ACC rookie of the year after

leading all conference freshmen with a team-best 15.3 scoring

average.

“Individual awards are great but at the same time we are all

focused on winning championships as a team and that is what I want

to win,” Rivers said.

Rivers averaged 20.5 points on 52.2 percent shooting in two wins

over the Hokies this season. Virginia Tech was led in those games

by Erick Green, who averaged 16.5 points despite 41.9 percent

shooting.

“What I kind of always tell our guys that first and foremost

when you play Duke, you’ve got to understand that they’re going to

draw a line in the sand each and every play,” Virginia Tech coach

Seth Greenberg said. “You’ve got to match their competitive spirit

before you can even worry about playing basketball.”

Green scored 24 points as Virginia Tech ended a four-game losing

streak with Thursday’s 68-63 win over Clemson. Dorenzo Hudson added

19 points – his highest total since a 31-point effort Nov. 15.

“The leadership they showed and the resiliency they showed and

the belief they showed in each other and their teammates was really

fun to watch,” Greenberg said. “They showed that toughness that is

Virginia Tech basketball.”

The winner will meet No. 17 Florida State or Miami in Saturday’s

semifinals.