When the Virginia Tech and Duke men’s basketball teams last squared off, the Hokies wound up celebrating with the ACC championship trophy.
A rematch of the 2022 ACC Tournament title game will take place Monday at Cassell Coliseum. The 7 p.m. game will be a “Big Monday” telecast on ESPN.
But this is a very different Virginia Tech team from the one that won the ACC Tournament — and not just because former Hokies Keve Aluma, Storm Murphy and Nahiem Alleyne are no longer in the starting lineup.
The Virginia Tech team that beat Duke last March was on a roll. The Hokies entered the title game having won 12 of their previous 14 games, including wins in the first three rounds of the ACC Tournament.
This year’s Virginia Tech team will carry a seven-game losing streak into Monday’s game — the Hokies’ longest skid in eight years.
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Last year’s Hokies rebounded from a 2-7 start in ACC play to become champions. This year’s squad is hoping for a similar turnaround — the Hokies are just 11-8 overall and 1-7 in ACC play.
The Hokies could use a better offensive performance Monday than they displayed in Saturday’s 51-50 loss at Clemson. Tech shot just 34.6% from the field — its second-worst field-goal percentage of the season.
Virginia Tech point guard Sean Pedulla was 2 of 13 from the field at Clemson. He is shooting just 31.9% from the field in ACC play.
Hokies guard Darius Maddox was 0 of 6 from the field at Clemson. He is shooting just 30.9% from the field in league play.
This is also a very different Duke team than the one that lost to the Hokies at the Barclays Center last March — and not just because Mike Krzyzewski is now retired.
Jeremy Roach and Jaylen Blakes are the only members of this year’s Duke team who played in the ACC tournament final. Blakes played just one minute in that game.
Roach is averaging 12 points this season. He returned to action in Saturday’s home win over No. 17 Miami after missing three games with a toe injury.
Duke freshman Kyle Filipowski is one of the top contenders for ACC rookie of the year. The 7-foot center is averaging 14.9 points and 9.5 rebounds.
The Blue Devils (14-5, 5-3) dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 last week after falling at Clemson. It was their third loss in a six-game span, including road losses to Wake Forest and North Carolina State.
But they seem poised to move back into the poll Monday in the wake of their win over Miami.
The Blue Devils rank only 13th in the ACC in field-goal percentage (42.9%), 12th in 3-point field-goal percentage (31.7%) and 13th in turnover margin. But they lead the league in rebounding margin (outrebounding foes by 8.8 rebounds per game).
Duke’s size could give Virginia Tech trouble. Seven of the nine players in Duke’s rotation are 6-foot-5 or taller, including Filipowski; 6-10 center Ryan Young, a Northwestern graduate transfer; 6-7 freshman forward Dariq Whitehead; 6-8 freshman forward Mark Mitchell; 6-5 freshman guard Tyrese Proctor; 7-1 freshman center Dereck Lively II; and 6-6 guard Jacob Grandison, an Illinois graduate transfer.