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There have been seasons in Ohio State basketball history (some recent ones as well) where winning every game on the non-conference schedule was not exactly an overwhelming task.
Well, 2012-13 will not be one of those years.
Sure, there will be games against the typical cupcakes that litter every major program’s early slate, but there are plenty of marquee opponents that will be awaiting the Buckeyes. In fact, the challenge begins on day one with the Carrier Classic against Marquette aboard the USS Yorktown.
Other difficult games on the schedule include a Final Four rematch with Kansas, a tricky game against Long Beach State, a potential early battle with Washington and the daunting trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
In a nutshell, Long Beach won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year, Washington (as with most of the Pac-12 outside of UCLA and maybe Arizona) doesn’t have enough talent to keep up with a top-notch Big Ten team and Marquette lost its top two players and won’t have enough experience or firepower that early.
That leaves Kansas and Duke.
Kansas beat Ohio State twice last season, but this one is in Columbus. The Bucks will have nothing but revenge on their minds, and a raucous crowd will lead them to victory.
On the other hand, Duke will be a road game, but, frankly speaking, I think the Blue Devils are a bit overrated. The team that lost to Lehigh in the NCAA tournament and to the Buckeyes by 22 points will be without its best player in Austin Rivers this year.
In a much closer battle, Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas will find a way to get it done once again versus the Devils.