Big Ten ACC Challenge: Victory over Ohio State Proves Duke Is an Elite Team

Nicholas GossCorrespondent INovember 29, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 13:  Mason Plumlee #5 and Seth Curry #30 of the Duke Blue Devils react after a foul by the Kentucky Wildcats in the final seconds during the 2012 State Farm Champions Classic at Georgia Dome on November 13, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Duke's impressive victory over No. 4 Ohio State on Wednesday night proved that head coach Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are a legitimate national title contender this year.

The Blue Devils have now beaten teams ranked No. 2 (Louisville), No. 3 (Kentucky) and No. 4 (Ohio State) in the nation this season, which makes up the best tournament resume of the early college basketball season.

One of the most impressive things about this team is its ability to finish games and not make foolish mistakes that result in losses to good teams such as Ohio State.

Duke doesn't always start games well, but the squad adjust and play exceptionally in the second half. Part of this can be attributed to Krzyzewski's masterful coaching abilities, as well as the team's experience.

To beat the best teams in America, you need a balanced team that can score from the perimeter and earn the tough points inside the paint.

With Seth Curry and other talented guards giving Duke some scoring from the perimeter, forward Mason Plumlee is the best frontcourt player Coach K has had in years.

Plumlee is the leading candidate for the player of the year awards right now and is one of the toughest frontcourt players to defend because of his size, strength and fundamentally strong low-post game.

The senior forward is averaging 19.9 points and 11 rebounds this year and has played well against the top schools that Duke has played thus far. Plumlee's stat line against the Buckeyes was spectacular. He scored 21 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and shot 9-of-12 from the free-throw line.

This Duke team doesn't have to rely on shooting well from the three-point line to win games. They can beat top-tier teams with their inside scoring and quality defense. This separates them from some recent Blue Devils teams who struggled during March Madness.

Based on the amount of quality wins Duke has earned this season, they should be ranked No. 1 in every poll. Current No. 1 Indiana is a good team, that much is certain, but the Hoosiers have beaten just one good team (No. 14 North Carolina) through seven games.

The Blue Devils' victory against Ohio State on Wednesday proved to the nation that they are going to be a challenging team to beat this season and are a real national title contender.