Make no mistake about it, this is a must win for Coach K and company in that they have to protect their home court, especially since they are struggling on the road.
Duke will not fall out of the nation’s top 25 teams when the polls come out later today, but they could if they cannot find the victory column this evening.
It will not be an easy task for the Blue Devils who have lost two of their last three games. In fact, the Blue Devils have little time to wallow in the Clemson defeat with such a short turnaround.
Duke will not play again until Saturday against N.C. State, so that is the time when the staff will have time for adjustments.
But for now, expect few changes this evening with the exception of some possible starters in their rotation.
That means, Duke will have to reach deep and quickly for the ACC will not bow at the four letters on their jersey while they find their footing.
Duke faces a much more solid team than Clemson in Virginia but the home court edge could be what the doctor ordered in that students will finally be back in full force.
But for Duke to come out on the winning end, they’ll need to reach deep and find a way to get more stops and more boards.
Suddenly, the offense is struggling and that is not something that can last if Duke is to right the ship.
Thankfully for Duke, there are a lot of games to be played this season, but unless they reverse their fortunes and blend together, they could be saddled with a low seed come March.
Time and time again, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has found ways to right the ship when adversity hits, but this season, he has a very young team at key positions.
And the Blue Devils played young against Clemson this past Saturday, allowing the Tigers to dictate the pace at key moments in the game.
Duke also continued to struggle in the post where they are roster challenged.
Coming into the season, the Duke hopes were for their size to create match up problems on the offensive end to off set the lack of post depth.
But that hasn’t been the case of late.
Another thing which is still evident is that the team has yet to blend well together which is expected to a degree. Still, it is the time of the season when most would like to see this happening.
The bottom line is that if Duke cannot find a way to take out a pesky Virginia team tonight, expect some serious red flags to continue to wave.
I think the team will rise to the challenge but it will not be easy. I look for a grinder of a game that will be close and tense.
On Saturday, several Blue Devils players didn’t seem to pack their A-game. Well, tonight, it’s time to bring it or else the Blue Devils could fall into that place they haven’t seen in years.
There is too much talent on hand for this team to be in the long time no-see honorable mention column. Or at least one would think so.
You cannot force a young freshman super star to age a year in a month, nor can you stretch a player to 6-10.
It will not be easy against anybody on the road this season for Duke.
If Duke is to turn it all around and fight their way back toward the top ten they need a win over Virginia and not to look ahead, N.C. State this weekend as well.
If that doesn’t happen, the top ten could be a distant memory.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand for these Blue Devils.