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Next Up - Ohio State

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As critical as every player on the court will be, the Ohio State game is likely to hinge on two  critical matchups.

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First: Aaron Craft and Quinn Cook.

Cook is surging. His confidence and his skill are syncing at a very high level. So far this season, he's been a perfect fit for Duke.

Craft, though, is a defensive savant. It's weird: he's smallish, not overwhelmingly talented, but he defends like nobody's business. And it's not like he's an overachieving dervish like Wojo was. He's more talented than Wojo was, but he's mortal.

Still, the guy just takes point guards apart, and he's not bad offensively either: Craft is averaging 14.3 ppg, shooting 46.7% from three point range and nearly 50% overall. He may or may not have an NBA future, but the guy is a great college player.

So is DeShaun Thomas, who will present Duke with some real matchup problems, and it's not at all clear who will guard him.

He's probably too quick for Ryan Kelly and also too big for Rasheed Sulaimon to cover. This would be a great game for Amile Jefferson to find his niche.

ESPN's John Hollinger pegs him as having the second best player-efficiency rating in the country, so he'll have to be dealt with. You may remember that on occasion, Duke has elected to let a superstar - Len Bias for instance - run wild, and opting to control the rest of the team instead.

Can't do that with the Buckeyes; too much talent.

Mismatches, as we say, go both ways, and Duke has a real advantage inside as Ohio State has just one player over 6-8, sophomore Amir Williams (6-11). He's playing, but his stat line is still modest.

Mason Plumlee was a load for Ohio State last year and figures to be this year as well. He's vastly improved and still has a significant size advantage.

Despite a bit of a shooting slump, Ryan Kelly has played brilliantly early. He's regularly described (including here) as not overwhelmingly athletic, yet he's overwhelming more athletic players. Go figure.

To the best of our recollection, this is the third meeting between Mike Krzyzewski and Thad Matta. They met first in the Elite Eight, when Matta was doing a bangup job at Xavier and again last year when Duke was gobsmacked in Columbus after a long trip back from Hawaii and a three-day tournament.

Matta did come to Cameron once as a Western Carolina assistant and the Catamounts, he says, went from a 28-28 tie to 60-32.

We have immense respect for Matta, not least of all because of how he's dealt with a crippling foot injury.

One of his feet, we forget which one, he's essentially lost control of due to a back injury. You'd never know it to watch him. He just gets on with it.

More importantly, though, his teams are as tough as he is, talented and challenging. Duke may well win, but it will not be easy.

And it may come down to the rising star, Cook, versus the well-established junior floor general, Craft. Don't be surprised if Tyler Thornton ends up playing a major role off the bench either. Duke has used him at various times, remember, to guard every position except center.