The now #2 ranked Buckeyes get set to take on the #3 ranked Duke Blue Devils in Value City Arena for their part of the B1G/ACC Challenge. Let’s take a look at the Dookies!
|Location:||Durham, North Carolina|
|Division:||NCAA DIV I|
|Conference:||Atlantic Coast (ACC)|
|Stadium:||Cameron Indoor Stadium|
|Head Coach:||Mike Krzyzewski|
This is a rare treat for Buckeye fans. It is not often that a team as historically excellent as the Duke Blue Devils has graced the basketball court in Columbus, and you know for a fact that it will be a raucous crowd. It also finally brings in a top ranked team to build excitement for the basketball program, something that fans have been clamoring about for a long time.
Mike Krzyzewski has to be one of the single greatest basketball coaches in history. He finally broke his old mentor’s all-time wins record a couple weeks ago – something you may remember since ESPN broke into the OSU/Florida game for it – with more than 800 of those wins coming at Duke. Given what his former players have said about him, including the kids at Army, you know that he’s a coach who’s got his head and heart in the right place.
Beating Duke will not be easy this season. Sometimes you can catch the Blue Devils in a down year, but this is certainly not one of them. The Dookies have already played two Big Ten teams in Michigan State (74-69) and Michigan (82-75). They’ve also defeated Kansas (68-61) to win the Maui invitational – which they’ve also never lost. Overall they’re 7-0 on the season, but have yet to play a “true” away game, with all of their big games coming on neutral courts. It will be interesting to see how they fair in front of a truly hostile crowd.
Duke is a very dynamic team with a number of excellent scorers in the lineup. Any single player of their starting five is capable of going off for double digit points in a game, and everyone one of them did it at least once during the Maui Invitational (against Tennessee, Michigan, and Kansas). This makes defending Duke extraordinarily difficult, as every player matters and no single defender can ever take time off against them.
Much like OSU, Duke likes to run a 3 guard, 2 forward lineup that takes advantage of putting the best players on the court as much as possible. They also maximize the minutes for their starters with four of the starters getting more than 30 minutes a game, and the fifth receiving 25+. Which player happens to be the fifth depends on game conditions and opponent matchups, making it difficult to predict.
At guard the Dookies run with Junior guards Seth Curry (6-2, 180) and Andre Dawkins (6-4, 200). Both players are excellent scorers, and aren’t afraid to either attack the rim or shoot from beyond the arc. Amazingly, Seth Curry is shooting a ridiculous 57.1% from beyond the arc, with Andre Dawkins shooting a more pedestrian, but no less impressive, 44.7%. Three point defense against these two will be absolutely critical for the Buckeyes if they want to hold off the Blue Devils in this game.
Down low, Krzyzewski counts on junior forwards Mason Plumlee (6-10, 235) and Ryan Kelly (6-11, 230) to get the job done in the paint. Plumlee is a monster on the glass, regularly bringing down double digit rebounding numbers. He’s so proficient, he’s actually averaging 10 rebounds a game. For comparison, Jared Sullinger averages 10.7, making this upcoming rebounding battle one of the most interesting for the entire season. Ryan Kelly’s stat-line is not nearly as impressive, but he puts the ball in the bucket and needs to be accounted for on every play.
|Lenzelle Smith Jr.||6||21||5.8||4.8||3||1.8||0||0.7||0.583||0.278||0.333|
No matter what happens on Tuesday night, this game will be a fantastic test for the Buckeyes this season. They will learn a lot about what they have to do as a team defensively against one of the top teams in the nation, and where they need to look for offensive production this year. We’ll discover just how important the three point shooting is for this team, and if they can keep up with an excellent shooting team – or, better yet, manage to quiet the three defensively. Most importantly, we will hopefully find out if there is someone on this team that can take a true leadership role and calm the troops in big moments.
The game will be played on Tuesday, November 29th in Value City Arena at 9:30 PM EST. You’ll be able to see the game on ESPN.