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Next Up - Ohio State

It might seem easy but it’s not going to be.

Continental Tire Challenge - Gonzaga v Duke
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 26: Wendell Moore Jr. #0 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on during their game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the Continental Tire Challenge at T-Mobile Arena on November 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Duke won 84-81.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images
  • Date: 11/30
  • Time: 9:30
  • Venue: Value City Arena
  • Video: ESPN

What do we know about Ohio State, Duke’s opponent in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge?

Well they’re not off to a great start. OSU beat Akron by just one, lost to Xavier by six and to Florida by three on a buzzer beater. They did beat Seton Hall 79-76. Ohio State has been a reliable power under coach Chris Holtmann but not so much right now.

However, there are reasons for that.

Justice Seeing is out with an injury which really ups the load on EJ Liddell. He’s really good but he could use some help. Seth Towns is also out and so is Eugene Brown. Towns, you’ll recall, played for Tommy Amaker at Harvard previously.

Transfer Jamari Wheeler is running the show and doing it well but Ohio State also relies heavily on freshmen guards and as you know, that can be hit or miss, pun intended. Malachi Branham and Meechie Johnson combine for 4.1 turnovers. Liddell is getting 2.7 and the team is averaging 12.3 per game. In the last game, against Florida, OSU had 19.

Justin Ahrens, a 6-6 senior, also starts. He doesn’t score a lot but he shoots nearly 50 percent overall from behind the line.

Normally Holtmann goes with a deep rotation but that’s significantly shortened by injury. And Duke has been exceptionally good on defense and really good at forcing turnovers.

So does Ohio State have a chance?

Well yes.

Duke comes into this game after a stellar outing in Las Vegas against Gonzaga. The Blue Devils are now rated #1 and are being celebrated far and wide. What we saw from Mark Williams, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Moore was eye-opening, even for Duke fans.

A letdown would be entirely human.

In fact, as we write, Gonzaga has been struggling with Tarleton (who?), breaking free only in the last 4:00 of the game.

And of course this game is on campus which gives the Buckeyes a huge emotional advantage.

So obviously Duke will be favored - DraftKings has the Blue Devils by -2.5 - but there are things that are very much in Ohio State’s favor as well.