These ACC foes met once this season, on Feb. 26, with Virginia Tech winning 77-72 at home. It’s easy to discount that game because Duke’s Zion Williamson was hurt. But Virginia Tech was missing point guard Justin Robinson, who returned from a foot injury and played magnificently in the tournament’s first two rounds.
Matchup to watch: Duke was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country during the regular season, ranking 340th, at 30.2 percent. Virginia Tech’s defense dares teams to shoot the three, and the Hokies have the nation’s ninth-best scoring defense, allowing 61.7 points per game.
X-factor: Duke’s Fab Four freshmen (Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones) had to feel both relieved and shellshocked after almost letting it all slip away Sunday against Central Florida. Perhaps they regroup and breeze through Friday’s game, or perhaps they buckle against another quietly imposing team.
Three stars to watch
1. Zion Williamson, Duke: It’s impressive how much he wants the ball in crunch time.
2. Kerry Blackshear, Virginia Tech: He had 19 points and nine rebounds Sunday against Liberty.
3. Tre Jones, Duke: Point guard is a difference-maker, even when his shot’s not falling.
Duke 72, Virginia Tech 70. This is Duke’s 25th trip to the Sweet 16 under Mike Krzyzewski, and the first for Virginia Tech since 1967.