That favorite time of the year has returned, the annual duel known as the B1G/ACC challenge is upon us! As one of the top teams from last year’s Big Ten season, the Buckeyes redrew the Duke Blue Devils for their matchup. This time, though, the game will be played in the cozy*, friendly*, confines of Cameron Indoor. The rematch is on!
|Location:||Durham, North Carolina|
|Division:||NCAA Division 1|
|Conference:||Atlantic Coast Conference|
|Stadium:||Cameron Indoor Stadium|
|Head Coach:||Mike Krzyzewski|
*Your actual experience as an opposing team may vary. Drastically.
Some interesting stats about Cameron Indoor stadium, since we’re on the subject, include the winning percentages for the Duke Blue Devils at that arena.
All Time: 771-150 (.837)
Coach Krzyzewski: 413-55 (.882)
Last 300 games: 271-29 (.903)
This is one of the premier venues in all of college basketball, and the Blue Devils defend it like it is holy. Coming in and stealing a win out from under them in the confines of their own home is not easy, and it has never been done in the B1G/ACC Challenge. Michigan State, Indiana, and Wisconsin have all tried, but never succeeded.
|#32||L. Smith Jr.||4||28.5||11.5||50.0||75.0||61.5||5.25||1.75||1.0||0.0||1.5|
It’s now the Buckeyes turn to try to notch a win, and they have a steep hill to climb in order to do it. The Blue Devils are 6-0 so far this season and ranked #2 in the country. They have a win over the defending National Champions, the Kentucky Wildcats, on their resume already, along with a win over then #2 Louisville, and have generally looked competent with their play so far this season. Add to that the loss of Sullinger from the paint, and the revenge factor for the 85-63 loss Duke suffered in Columbus last year, and you have a recipe for a focused Blue Devils team.
But don’t count the Buckeyes out just yet. They have played solid, fundamental basketball so far this year, and have shown incredible growth over the last four games. Key to the Buckeyes efforts to defeat Duke will be inside where Evan Ravenel will do battle with senior forward Mason Plumlee (6-10, 235, #5). Plumlee is a beast, averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, along with a pair of blocks and an 80% free throw shooting average to go with it. This is the guy that rocked us to the tune of 16 points and 8 rebounds last season when we had Sullinger to contain him. It will take all of Ravenel’s effort to keep up, but he’s got the talent and skill with which to do it.
The Blue Devils are a senior laden bunch, and won’t make silly mistakes that could cost them the game. It will be imperative for the Buckeyes to keep their focus and make smart decisions with the Basketball. This goes as much for minimizing turnovers and fouls as it does: making good shot selections, delivering smart, crisp passes, and playing excellent man-to-man defense. So far this season we’ve seen nothing but positive play in most of these categories, and a game against Duke, win or lose, will do nothing but help this team improve.
If the starters play on fire, especially if DeShaun Thomas and Aaron Craft getting going on the offensive end, and they can keep Duke working hard on the other side of the court, this game can go Ohio State’s way. If Duke finds easy scoring, the stat sheet could blow up in a hurry. So grab some popcorn and your favorite beer and hold on tight for this one.
The Buckeyes will play the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, November 28th at 9:30 PM Eastern Time. You’ll be able to see that game on ESPN.