Duke is the hottest team in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pitt is probably the biggest surprise in the league.

One of them will end up closer to a conference championship after they meet in the ACC tournament quarterfinals on Thursday in Greensboro, N.C.

No. 21 Duke (23-8), which is the tournament’s fourth seed, holds a season-best six-game winning streak after receiving byes through the first two rounds.

“No matter how you ended up the regular season, no matter how you did overall, it really has no impact on what you do in the ACC tournament,” first-year Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. “And you need to address it like a new season.”

Fifth-seeded Pitt (22-10) is in the ACC tournament quarterfinal for the first time since 2016. The Panthers held off Georgia Tech 89-81 in Wednesday afternoon’s second round.

Duke beat visiting Pitt 77-69 on Jan. 11.

“It seemed like forever ago,” Panthers coach Jeff Capel said. “They’re really good. They’re probably the hottest team in the league. I think they’ve won six in a row. Those freshmen have grown up. Obviously, we know that they’re very, very talented. It’ll be a heck of a game.”

Capel, who will face his alma mater on Thursday, and Scheyer are former Duke assistant coaches.

“We worked together for, I think, it was five years, and you just saw him become more confident and to grow and to get better,” Capel said. “He’s a guy that wants to be really good. He’s passionate about what he does.”

With Duke having its best stretch of the season at an ideal time, there could be more in terms of the team’s growth.”

“Our guys have been as consistent as any group in terms of the work ethic and the approach,” Scheyer said. “And we’ve done it a different way. We’ve really done it with our defense, and we’ve had to play a little bit differently because of our roster and that’s worked out to help us in a major way.”

Pitt is the only league member that Duke has never faced in the ACC tournament, something that changes Thursday.

The Panthers shot a season-best 56.4 percent from the field against Georgia Tech, marking the best shooting mark in 16 all-time games in the ACC tourney.

Pitt has had sizable disadvantages in offensive-rebounding margin in its past two games. Duke is the ACC’s top offensive-rebounding team statistically.

“That’s why they beat us at their place,” Capel said. “They dominated the glass. We have to be better there if we want to have a chance against them.”

Duke forward Kyle Filipowski is the ACC Rookie of the Year, averaging 15.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

The Blue Devils rely on a lineup that is stocked with freshmen along with junior guard Jeremy Roach.

“I don’t think any of us feel like we are freshmen in a sense anymore,” freshman guard Tyrese Proctor said, “just because of the roles that we’ve had on the team.”

Duke has a long history of success at the Greensboro Coliseum, holding a 99-40 record in the building. That includes a 41-18 record in ACC tournament play with eight championships.

–Field Level Media