Against NCAA tournament-bound teams, Joe Harris (photo) is averaging 22 points a game – Thursday he scored 36 against No. 3 Duke. In those same games Akil Mitchell is averaging 11 rebounds a game, Thursday he had 12. Put it together and the University of Virginia is now 5-2 against tournament-bound teams after a 73-68 win over Duke Thursday and very likely heading to the tournament themselves
Harris, who fouled out with 40 seconds to play, is averaging 17 points a game but steps it up a notch against tough opponents. Both he and Mitchell have been rated in www.valueaddbasketball.com among the top eight players in the ACC.
Duke stayed close until early in the second half, as UVa held only a 30-26 lead. Harris then drove for a layup to make it 32-26. Beginning with that layup, Harris scored 17 points in the next 15 minutes to pull the Cavaliers to a 64-50 lead, and the game was never in doubt despite some late points by Duke to make the game look respectable.
Virginia is now 5-2 against tournament bound teams with wins over UNC, NC State, Tennessee, at Wisconsin and now Duke to go against only a narrow loss to Miami on the road and a loss to UNC.
Virginia was ranked 16th at www.kenpom.com based on that strong resume, but that same rating shows teams that have beaten Virginia ranked 87th (Georgia Tech), 96th (Clemson), 123rd (Wake Forest), 138th (George Mason), 169th (Delaware) and 265th (Old Dominion). Luckily none of those teams will be in the NCAA tournament.
Duke’s Mason Plumlee, who was the best player in the country early in the season, continued to look worn down as he was outplayed badly by Mitchell. Plumlee made only two field goals in a 10 point, 7 rebound game, while Mitchell scored 18 to go along with his 12 rebounds.
Mike Krzyzewski and his players argued harshly about half way through the second half as the game slipped away.