Pence's Quick Thoughts
The showcase game of Wednesday night has the Buckeye's coming to Durham. You can bet that the Blue Devils have this game circled, even after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament and winning the tourney MVP, Quinn Cook mentioned this game in his postgame interview. The reason for that attention to this game is that the Buckeyes took Duke to the woodshed last season.
Ohio State has been a very efficient offensive team so far this season, 6th in the nation in eFG%, 12th in TO%, 2nd in 3 pt % leading to the 5th best offensive efficiency. They are no slouch on the offensive glass either ranking 60th in offensive rebounding % at 38%. Deshaun Thomas is the tough matchup, a true athletic 4 that you don't typically see in college more than one season. Ryan Kelly will get the initial matchup with Thomas, although I'm certain Plumlee and even a smaller defender like Sulaimon will see some time on him as well.
Duke will need to hit the boards, they have been uncommonly bad rebounding the basketball this season. The Blue Devils are ranked 235th in offensive rebounding % and 261st in defensive rebounding % so far this season. That said, the Blue Devils have the 2nd best offensive efficiency, thanks in large part to taking care of the ball, knocking down the 3, and getting to the FT line where they shoot nearly 80%.
Its hard to see Duke losing this one at home, but I'm not convinced it will happen. Ohio State is really good and the type of team that has historically won at Duke. By that I mean tough minded, can make 2 point shots, and will crash the boards. I'll take Duke just because they're playing at home.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Thad Matta jokes that he has a secret weapon going into No. 4 Ohio State's ACC/Big Ten Challenge showdown on Wednesday night at No. 2 Duke.
Greg Paulus, in his second year as the Buckeyes' video coordinator, was one of the Blue Devils' patented scrappy point guards from 2006-09. He's diagrammed where all the dead spots are on the floor at legendary Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"He's got it all mapped out," Matta said, trying to hold back a grin. "There's a big chart with pins stuck in it."
Instead of the nuances of the old gym, the Buckeyes are concerned more with how they play and how that measures up against the mighty Blue Devils in a key game for both teams.
To get ready for the trip - and for a date with Cameron Indoor's famously loud and boisterous students - Matta had crowd noise blaring during practice this week. That's about the only concession the Buckeyes have made to the game beyond a series of hard practices.
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As critical as every player on the court will be, the Ohio State game is likely to hinge on two critical matchups.
First: Aaron Craft and Quinn Cook.
Cook is surging. His confidence and his skill are syncing at a very high level. So far this season, he’s been a perfect fit for Duke.
Craft, though, is a defensive savant. It’s weird: he’s smallish, not overwhelmingly talented, but he defends like nobody’s business. And it’s not like he’s an overachieving dervish like Wojo was. He’s more talented than Wojo was, but he’s mortal.
Still, the guy just takes point guards apart, and he’s not bad offensively either: Craft is averaging 14.3 ppg, shooting 46.7% from three point range and nearly 50% overall. He may or may not have an NBA future, but the guy is a great college player.
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The Ohio State Buckeyes head to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time ever where nothing is certain to be easy.
If you're a fan of the sport of basketball and if you so much as watch one college hoops game a year, the odds are you fall into one of two camps: you hate Duke or you're a contrarian. Of course there's the tiny, passionate majority that have a legitimate stake to Coach Mike Krzyzewski's mind boggling NCAA record 860 career wins and four national championships who went there, but the Ohio State faithful have a hard time wrapping their heads around the notion of an active alumni base only slightly larger than the number that fill Ohio Stadium 8 times each fall.
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