OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (4-0)
at DUKE BLUE DEVILS (6-0)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Line: Duke -6.5, Total: 142
Two of the nation’s top-four teams highlight the ACC/Big Ten Challenge when No. 4 Ohio State visits No. 2 Duke on Wednesday night.
When these teams met a year ago, the Buckeyes blasted the Blue Devils in Columbus, opening up a big lead before cruising to a 22-point victory. OSU was a 7.5-point favorite in that game, but the Blue Devils are clearly the favorite this year not only because of the home-court advantage, but because they return more key players from a year ago. The Buckeyes have cruised to four relatively easy SU wins (2-1 ATS) in the early season, while Duke is coming off an impressive title run at the Battle 4 Atlantis, beating a very good Louisville team (albeit without star big man Gorgui Dieng) on a neutral court for the title. They also have a neutral court win over Kentucky.
Who will win this battle of titans? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts have been on top of their game in the past five days, going a collective 22-16-1 ATS (58%) on college basketball Best Bets. The group is now 53% ATS (73-66-3) for the season, led by StatFox Gary at 58% ATS (15-11). StatFox Dave is at 54% ATS (29-25) for the season after going 61% ATS (20-13) since Nov. 17. StatFox Brian has gone 7-3-1 ATS (70%) in the past six days.
Duke has already passed two major early season tests, beating Kentucky and Louisville on neutral courts. Against Kentucky, the team committed just eight turnovers and senior PG Seth Curry had 23 points on 7-of-14 FG and 3-of-5 threes. All five starters scored between 14 and 16 points in the Louisville win, as they shot 23-for-27 from the line as a team. Curry (17.0 PPG) hasn’t quite been the dead-eye shooter he’s been in the past, hitting only 37.1% of his threes, but C Mason Plumlee has staked his claim as the nation’s best big man, averaging 19.7 PPG on 67.2% FG, 10.0 RPG and 1.8 BPG, and freshman SG Rasheed Sulaimon has provided much-needed offense and athleticism, averaging 12.0 PPG and scoring in double-digits each of the past five games.
With two of their top three scorers—PF Jared Sullinger and SG William Buford—from last season gone, the Buckeyes have relied heavily on junior SF Deshaun Thomas in the early going. He’s averaging 24.0 PPG and had 31 in a neutral court win over Washington, the Buckeyes’ biggest early season test. He’s shooting and making more threes, knocking down 3.0 per game at a 48.0% clip this year after hitting just 1.3 per game at a 34.5% clip last season. Junior PG Aaron Craft is the nation’s best perimeter defender (1.5 SPG), and he’s averaging a career-high 14.3 PPG and 5.3 APG. Junior SG Lenzelle Smith Jr. is also off to a great start, averaging 11.5 PPG and hitting 61.5% of his threes.