Ohio State is riding high off its first ranked win of the season. Duke just suffered its most lopsided loss since 2020. We’ll find out just how much momentum matters Wednesday as the Buckeyes try to knock off the Blue Devils for the second straight year.
|#17 Duke (6-2)
|Cameron Indoor Stadium
A hostile environment at Cameron Indoor Stadium won’t aid the 25th-ranked Buckeyes, who have yet to play a true road game this season. Still, Ohio State will carry with it the bragging rights of the 71-66 win it captured over then-No. 1 Duke exactly one year ago today. And the 17th-ranked Blue Devils, who have already dropped two games this season and fell nine spots in the AP poll after a 19-point loss to Purdue on Sunday, aren't nearly as hot as the 2021 squad was at this point last year.
A lot has changed on both sides over the last year, though. Jon Scheyer is in his first year as head coach of Duke, taking over for the legendary Coach K, and the Blue Devils lost a whopping five players from the 2021-22 team to the NBA. On the other side, Ohio State has eight new faces on scholarship, and Zed Key is the lone returning player who actually logged minutes in last year’s Duke game.
"Not really much (OSU cant take from last year's game). We played at home, incredible environment, I can take some good memories," Chris Holtmann said Tuesday. "That's what I can take. But outside of that, nothing really. They're different. We're obviously very different. They obviously have a new coaching staff, even though (Scheyer) was obviously on staff for a number of years and played there. But not much at all. ... You're playing a team that's gonna play with great energy coming off a loss. They're really gifted and really talented, they're the number one offensive rebounding team in the country, and they're playing back at home for the first time. It'll be an incredible environment.
"So there's no question, obviously having beaten them last year, we're gonna get a great shot from them. And that's certainly what we expect."
Ohio State is fresh off a 2-1 run in the Maui Invitational, which saw it lose its first game of the year to No. 17 San Diego State before bouncing back with a blowout win over Cincinnati and a seven-point victory against then-No. 21 Texas Tech. Duke’s Purdue loss is its second of the year after falling to Kansas on Nov. 15, and its two most recent wins over Oregon State and Xavier both came by single-digit margins.
At 7:15 p.m., the two programs will go head-to-head for the ninth time as one team will uneven the all-time series with a fifth victory over the other.
What to Watch For
True freshmen on both sides will play a major role in deciding the outcome of Wednesday’s contest. Duke counts three five-star freshmen and top-25 overall 2022 recruits among its top-five scorers so far this season, with Kyle Filipowski (No. 4 overall), Mark Mitchell (No. 13) and Tyrese Proctor (No. 23) averaging a combined 31.8 points per game. Beyond those three, Duke still has the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the 2022 class – Dereck Lively Jr. and Dariq Whitehead – on the roster. Not to mention, Filipowski and Lively are both 7-footers and have both started the past five games.
Ohio State has four freshmen averaging at least 14 minutes per night, including leading scorer Brice Sensabaugh (15.8 points per game), who has quickly become one of the fastest-rising players in the nation despite having yet to make a start. Bruce Thornton has started every game so far for Ohio State and came alive in the Maui Invitational to average 13 points across three games for the Buckeyes.
Battle on the offensive boards
Duke has the second-most offensive rebounds in the country (126) and averages more per game (15.8) than all but two teams (Alabama and UT Arlington). Duke’s size has plenty to do with that statistic, as Filipowski and 6-foot-10 senior Ryan Young are averaging seven offensive rebounds between them. Young has been particularly exceptional at creating second-chance opportunities for the Blue Devils, as he’s corralled 4.1 per game on average through eight games. Ohio State ranks 33rd in the country in defensive rebounding (29.2), although the Buckeyes have allowed smaller teams to gash them on the offensive glass early in the year.
Duke will be its toughest challenge to date in that regard, and perhaps all season.
"They've got great size across the board. As big as any team we'll play all year, and it's not necessarily at one particular position," Holtmann said. "It's more kind of across the board. They've got great interior depth. They're number one in offensive rebounding percentage in the country right now. So to say that's a concern going into the game is an understatement."
Bucks seek first win in Durham
Multiple program firsts are on the table in the event of an Ohio State win. Although the Buckeyes have previously played Duke eight times, they’ve never beaten the Blue Devils at home, where Duke edged Ohio State in both 2012 and 1966. And despite holding a 4-4 record against Duke all-time, Ohio State has never beaten the Blue Devils in back-to-back years. This will be the third time Ohio State and Duke have played in consecutive seasons. Duke won in 1963-34 and 1964-65, and the programs split the pair in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Three Important Buckeyes
Sueing’s six-game start to the season has been inconsistent after missing nearly all of last year, but the sixth-year forward was simply sensational for the Buckeyes last time out. Sueing scored more points in the second half against Texas Tech (23) than he ever had in a full game in scarlet and gray. By game’s end, Sueing scored a career-high 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting and tacked on eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. It was a much-needed bounce-back effort for Sueing, who was averaging just 8.5 points on 29.3% from the field in the four games prior. Ohio State is deep enough that a repeat performance may not be necessary for the Buckeyes to get a win, even on the road against Duke, but another standout effort by the second-year captain sure wouldn’t hurt.
The best game of Key’s college career came in last year’s win against Duke. The Buckeye big man scored a career-high 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting during a game in which E.J. Liddell and Malaki Branham only combined to put up 22 points. Key was Ohio State’s best offensive player that night, and thus far in 2022-23, he’s been far more consistent a contributor than he was a season ago. Key’s defensive responsibilities will also be crucial to Ohio State’s success in this year’s matchup, as Duke has three potential starters who stand between 6-foot-8 and 7-foot. Key must be careful to avoid foul trouble but will still have to mix it up down low against a team that racks up offensive rebounds better than any unit in the country.
The recent emergence of the West Virginia transfer has been a revelation for Ohio State. McNeil scored just 19 total points in the first three games of the season, despite starting in each and playing no fewer than 24 minutes a night, but he seems to be settling in after a couple of breakout performances in Maui. McNeil dropped 22 points in a losing effort to San Diego State and scored another 13 in the Buckeyes’ win over Texas Tech.
"It was big for me," McNeil said Tuesday. "Kind of took a little bit longer than I would've liked to get going a few games in, but I stayed within myself, played within the system and shots started falling."
As a result, McNeil is averaging just under 10 points per game through six contests as Ohio State’s fourth-leading scorer. He’s also been the Buckeyes’ most active 3-point shooter, and Ohio State could use a few of those to go down on Wednesday if it hopes to upset the Blue Devils.
Three Important Blue Devils
A top-five overall prospect and five-star recruit in the 2022 class, Filipowski has lived up to the billing thus far. The 7-foot freshman is Duke’s leading scorer (15.4 points) and rebounder (9.4) through eight games, with at least 10 points in all of them and a double-double in four separate contests. Filipowski is more than just an inside threat, though, as the first-year Blue Devil has attempted multiple 3-pointers in all but one game so far and at least five threes in five games. Filipowski is knocking down better than 36% of his long-range tries, and even his overall shooting percentage (42.3%) has been less than stellar.
Filipowski has attempted four free throws or under in both of Duke’s losses this season, although the Buckeyes’ lack of size down low might present a problem against the Blue Devil big man.
|12.9 PPG, 3.6 APG
|6.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG
|9.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG
|15.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG
|DERECK LIVELY JR.
|2.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG
Five-star 2020 prospect Jeremy Roach has stepped his game up a notch in year three with Duke. After averaging fewer than nine points per game in his first two seasons, the 6-foot-1 guard is putting up a career-high 12.9 as Duke’s second-leading scorer through eight games. As far as distributing the ball, Roach leads the Blue Devils with 3.6 assists per night. He’s been an inconsistent shooter thus far, hitting just 39.6% of his shots, but Roach has proven capable of dropping 15 to 20 points on any given night. Roach finished with just nine points in 35 minutes of action against Ohio State a season ago, and he’ll be striving for a more productive night against the scarlet and gray on Wednesday.
Another five-star freshman, Mitchell is off to a strong start to his college career as Duke’s third-leading scorer with an average of 9.6 points per game. The 6-foot-8 forward has four double-digit scoring totals to his credit in the first eight games, but he’s been particularly limited in Duke’s two losses. Mitchell only managed seven points in 31 minutes against Kansas, and Purdue held him to just two points on 1-for-6 shooting the last time out.
In fact, Mitchell has scored eight points or fewer in three of his past four games, including a total of three points against Oregon State and Purdue. But Mitchell’s averaging 12.8 points per game at home this season, and his size and athleticism figure to give Ohio State something to think about.
How It Plays Out
Line: Duke -5.5, O/U: 138.5
Prediction: Duke 71, Ohio State 67
Duke's size hasn't stopped it from losing multiple games thus far, but it should give Ohio State a whole lot of problems with two 7-footers in the starting lineup. The Buckeyes have proven they can hang with top-25 competition, but they may be biting off a bit more than they can chew with the Blue Devils on the road on Wednesday.