Duke vs. Ohio State: Untested Buckeyes Aren't Ready to Beat Blue Devils on Road
It takes a talented and mature group to knock off a good Duke team at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes aren't quite up to the challenge. Aside from the overrated 2011-2012 team, the last Blue Devils squad that lost at home to anyone besides North Carolina was the 2006-2007 squad.
The Buckeyes are a quality team, but their 4-0 record is a bit deceiving. They have knocked off Rhode Island, Washington, Missouri-Kansas City and Albany this season. None of these teams are considered national powers.
The No. 2 Blue Devils can make a strong case that they should be the top team in the country. They have raced out to a 6-0 start, highlighted by wins over then No. 3 Kentucky and No. 2 Louisville on Saturday.
Duke has been benefiting from balanced scoring led by Mason Plumlee. Five players average double figures, but the senior big man is averaging a strong double-double with 19.7 points and 10 rebounds per game.
When you put up numbers like that for a good Duke team, you're a Naismith Award candidate.
The Blue Devils are also shooting the three well as a team. They have connected on 37 percent of their shots from the arc. Perhaps the most important aspect of Duke's hot start is their defense. They are holding teams to just 65 points per game.
They are shooting from distance well, Plumlee gives them an inside presence and they are defending. It's going to take a strong effort to knock this group off at home.
The Buckeyes are led by Deshaun Thomas who is averaging 24 points per game. He's been unconscious from three, making 12 of his 25 attempts from beyond the arc.
The challenge for the Buckeyes is to find a dependable secondary scoring option in a hostile environment, against a good defensive team. Therein lies what I believe will be the Buckeyes' undoing.
Aaron Craft is the team's second-leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, but he is largely a spot-up shooter. The Buckeyes need one more player that can create his own shot, or a dependable post-up option.
If the Blue Devils work to get the ball out of Thomas' hands, his supporting cast will be exposed. The Buckeyes play great team defense, and that will keep the game close.
However, these types of games require big-time players to make pressure shots, and Duke has more players capable of coming through in that role.
The Blue Devils will win this game 64-56.
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