Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 2/25/13
Virginias home game with Duke on Thursday night may not make or break the Cavaliers NCAA Tournament hopes, but a victory would go a very long way in getting them into the field of 68. The Cavaliers begin the week at 19-8 overall and 9-5 in the ACC with an RPI of 73. The low RPI is a result of two bad nonconference losses, one in particular to RPI No. 320 Old Dominion in December. A win over Duke, which is ranked No. 1 in the RPI, would elevate Virginia's RPI up into the low 60s or possibly even the high 50s. If Virginia can then manage to not fall apart in closing out the regular season, it will find itself in the NCAAs and probably with a seed higher than usual for a team with its RPI. But first things first: Duke is playing well again after falling at Maryland, and presents some matchup issues for the Wahoos. But Virginia also presents some issues. Virginia is longer on the perimeter and likes shooting 3-pointers. If the Wahoos can consistently get good spacing out there they have an edge. Most important in how things flow will be the play of 6-foot-6 junior wing Joe Harris, who is averaging 16.7 points per game, nearly hitting 50 percent of his 3-pointers, and has emerged as a legitimate ACC Player of the year candidate. Theyre really good, they are a tough team to defend, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Sunday after the Blue Devils beat Boston College. Harris is one of the best players in the country. That kid is rock solid, hes terrific. Hes the heart and soul of their team. But the Cavaliers are more than just Harris. Tony Bennetts club has really come together in league play. They are healthy, which helps, and now everyone understands their roles, which is vital under Bennetts system. They play outstanding defense, but theyre okay with pushing the ball up the court, Krzyzewski said. I think thats a misnomer about them. Theyll push it up and shoot. Theyre a good basketball team, and at home theyll be even better. Duke (24-3, 11-3) is playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and if freshman wing Rasheed Sulaimon keeps shooting 50 percent from the field and the Blue Devils play like they did this past week, they may walk away from John Paul Jones Arena with a victory. But Virginia is just so tough at home and has grown into a better team than Maryland and N.C. State, both of which have beaten the Blue Devils. And, Virginia will score the ball, as Krzyzewski said. Its averaging 74 points a game in its last six contests, but excluding a 50-point effort at Miami, the Cavs are scoring 78.8 points a game in that stretch and three times have been over 80 points. Pick: Virginia, 70-65 Feb. 26 Wake Forest (12-14, 5-9) at Florida State (14-13, 6-8) When: 9 p.m. Full Court Press: Wake Forest has not played well at all on the road and Florida State hasnt played well period of late. Also, the Demon Deacons beat the Seminoles at home by 26 points two weeks ago, but that probably doesnt matter at this point. Keys here are simple: This is FSUs game to lose. The Seminoles need to be ready to play and get nice games from Michael Snaer and Okaro White. Pick: FSU, 67-60. Feb. 26 Virginia Tech (12-15, 3-11) at Miami (22-4, 13-1) When: 7 p.m. Full Court Press: If the Hurricanes are going to rebound back to what they were before three consecutive lackluster performances they need to wax the Hokies. Slow down Erick Green, dominate the glass and get its open court game going is what Miami must do to get back into its groove. Pick: Miami, 77-60. Boston College (12-15, 4-10) at N.C. State (19-8, 8-6) When: 8 p.m. Full Court Press: Boston College has been pretty bad on the road, so this is the right opponent for the Wolfpack to host to get back on track after a disappointing loss at UNC. Maybe C.J. Leslie will be engaged in this game, because he sure wasnt in Chapel Hill. This game also serves as an opportunity for coach Mark Gottfried to send the talented junior a message, which could be a factor in how the rest of the season plays out. Pick: N.C. State, 83-68. Maryland (19-8, 7-7) at Georgia Tech (14-12, 4-10) When: 8 p.m. Full Court Press: Once again, the Terrapins face a road game they should win but well could lose, which would further squash their NCAA Tournament hopes. They lost at Boston College last week a few days after beating Duke. Now, they head to Atlanta after taking care of Clemson. Guard play will be big, and its not an area Maryland always excels. Pick: Georgia Tech, 64-59. Feb. 26 North Carolina (19-8, 9-5) at Clemson (13-13, 5-9) When: 7 p.m. Full Court Press: Road games are great tests for the new-look Tar Heels and their smallish lineup. Clemson will defend and try to muck up things, so UNC must stay dedicated to its approach and continue to play unselfishly. Clemson must hit perimeter shots and be even on the glass to have a chance. Pick: UNC, 71-60. Season record: 176-45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Reggie Jackson's trolling in an NBA of long-tailed narratives

Top storylines for college football's Rivalry Week

Gabby Douglas says she was also abused by Larry Nassar

MLB punishes Braves, bans former GM for life

Report: Paxton Lynch will start for Broncos in Week 12

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ray Allen claims he was victim of catfishing scheme

Joe Morgan to voters: ‘Steroid users don’t belong here’

Jones confident he will get his way with Goodell contract

Clippers' Doc Rivers firmly on the hot seat

Report: Raiders fire DC Ken Norton Jr.

Cam Newton shares 2008 police photo to share message of hope

NFL Week 12 predictions

College football Week 13 predictions

The 'Greatest show on flat Earth' quiz

NFL MVP Watch: Carson Wentz stands tall among the pack

Young Maple Leafs maturing their way to the NHL elite

The Eagles are soaring but to what heights?

2017 Week 13 college football players to watch

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

Winners and losers from NBA's first month

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL Week 12 predictions

NFL MVP Watch: Carson Wentz stands tall among the pack

The 'Greatest show on flat Earth' quiz

Young Maple Leafs maturing their way to the NHL elite

The Eagles are soaring but to what heights?

2017 Week 13 college football players to watch

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

NFL Week 11 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker