By Tom Comi
This is the time of year when college basketball takes a backseat to NCAA and professional football, but there really is no better matchup in any sport this week than tonight’s showdown between Duke and Ohio State.
Taking place as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the #3-ranked Blue Devils travel to Columbus with their perfect 7-0 record to take on the #2-ranked Buckeyes (6-0) at 9:30pm ET on ESPN. This is the kind of game that is usually played in April with a national championship on the line.
And even though we are many months away from the NCAA Tournament, tonight’s game will surely have a similar buzz about it. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad is already battle tested after taking down Kansas, Michigan and Tennessee to win the Maui Invitational. Aside from knocking off a top-10 team in Florida, OSU has yet to be tested or play a game on the road.
Thad Matta’s Buckeyes are led by big man Jared Sullinger, and it will take everything from the Duke’s Plumlee brothers (Marshall and Mason) to keep him in check. Lending Sullinger support from the wing are Aaron Craft and William Bufford, who is capable of racking up points quickly and often (he has 48 in the last two games).
Coach K has five players who average double figures, and he will look to stretch the floor by relying on sharpshooters Seth Curty, Austin Rivers and Andre Dawkins. Ryan Kelly will need to keep the momentum going from his MVP-winning performance at the Maui tournament, and the Plumlee tandem must hold their own in the paint.
Well, I’ve done my best to explain why this should be a great game, but I think I will defer to the King of Hyperbole to take it from here:
“The Buckeyes and Blue Devils should put on a great show on Tuesday night,” Dick Vitale wrote in his ESPN column today. “I cannot wait to get there and call the game with my buddy Dan Shulman. It should be awesome, baby, with a capital A!”
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