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No. 15 Duke faces off with previously ranked Virginia Tech

It’s an ACC showdown with the No. 15 Duke Blue Devils facing off against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Senior guard Celeste Taylor has led Duke to a 9-1 record, while Virginia Tech is focusing on going 2-0 to start the ACC season.

South Carolina v Duke
Jade Williams
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The ACC is stacked. The league has six teams ranked in the AP Top 25 and then there’s Virginia Tech, which is No. 20 in the NET rankings. If they win against Duke on Thursday, they Hokies will have a great opportunity to be ranked and be at the top of the ACC early in the season.

To win against Duke, Virginia Tech will need a big game from its star player Elizabeth Kitley. That shouldn’t be a tall order for her as she’s averaging 18.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Her dominance as a big opens up opportunities for shooters, which is good news for the Hokies, who are shooting 37 percent from three. A victory on Thursday would give Virginia Tech its best win this season and put it in the conversation as one of the contenders in the conference.

Duke has overachieved so far this season. The Blue Devils were selected by ACC coaches to finish eighth and were nowhere to be found in the Ap Top 25 to start the year. They have played well in non-conference play and at 9-1 are ranked No. 15 in the country. Their only loss has been a nine-point defeat against No. 1 South Carolina.

The team’s surprising success can be attributed to their ability to defend the three, their rebounding, and great play from players like senior guard Celeste Taylor and freshman phenom Shayeann Day-Wilson.

Game information:

Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3, 1-0 ACC) vs. No. 15 Duke Blue Devils (9-1, 0-0 ACC)

When: Thursday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Blacksburg, VA

How to watch/listen: ACC Network/Go Duke or Hokie Vision

Key to the matchup: Duke will be looking to utilize their combo of Day-Wilson and Taylor early and often. If both players have a good game it could be a long night for the Hokies. Virginia Tech will be looking to aggressively shoot the three ball — it’s clearly its strong suit. If the Hokies can keep turnovers down and take advantage of Kitley’s dominance as a big, they can win the battle on the boards, open up the floor for their shooters, and be in control of their destiny during the closing minutes of the game. Being at home doesn’t hurt either. The crowd will be loud and energetic with the team facing off against Duke.