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  1. #1

    MBB: Duke @ Ohio State (Tue 11/30, 9:30 pm, ESPN) Pre-Game and In-Game Thread

    The Duke Blue Devils take their winning ways to Columbus, Ohio for the annual ACC/B1G Challenge. This year, they face off against the Buckeyes of Ohio State. This will be the first true road game for the Blue Devils and last game before the annual finals break.

    Ohio State is a study in contrasts. They are experienced and deep up front with a mostly young backcourt that is still figuring things out. Overall, it is a team that can really score the ball but struggles to defend. The engine behind the offense is do-it-all 6'7" JR PF E.J. Liddell. He leads the team in minutes, scoring (22.5 pts/gm), and blocks (3.8); and is second in rebounds (6.2) and assists (2.2). For good measure, he's hitting a career-best 40.9% of his 3-pointers on 3.7 attempts per game and better than 60% of his shots inside the arc. Liddell is a mostly below-the-rim player that plays an all-around game. He's comfortable playing out of either the low or high post and has developed his jumper to the point that it is a real weapon. Still, he's undersized at just 6'7" but has long arms and a keen understanding of angels. He relies on step-backs and fadeaways to get his shot off against taller players. There are few better forwards in the country.

    The other big men for Ohio State include a number of rugged types, including 6'8" 5th-year SR F/C Kyle Young and 6'8" SO F/C Zed Key. Both have a few skills to operate with their backs to the basket, although Young has the more all-around game while Key is much more willing to operate close to the basket. Young comes off the bench and is second in scoring for the Buckeyes right now at 9.6 pts/game. He has the better jumper and made more than 40% of his 3-attempts last season, although on low volume. This year, the shots are not falling as often. Key can and will take a mid-range jumper and hits those at a high rate. Neither is much of a shot blocking presence. They are both serviceable high-major centers but nothing to write home about. Former Butler and Indiana 6'11" 6-th year SR C Joey Brunk is also in the frontcourt mix. He missed all of last season with a medical redshirt and is playing his way back into game shape. He has started each of the past two games for Ohio State, in fact, although only averaging 6.5 minutes per contest.

    The backcourt has been the big issue for Ohio State this year. Last season, they relied on the shot-making heroics of Duane Washington, Jr. to provide balance to the high-octane offense. When his shots were falling, tOSU was capable of scoring on anyone. Washington left the team for the NBA Draft. Head Coach Chris Holtmann turned to the transfer portal and the high school ranks to fill out the backcourt this year with mixed results so far. The starting PG is the 5th-year Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler. While slight of build at just 6'1" and 170 lbs, Wheeler was an All-B1G defensive team member each of the past two seasons. While Wheeler has a good-looking jumper, he is just not wired for scoring the ball and is averaging 5.0 pts/gm on the young season. The Buckeyes have been searching for consistent scoring from a pair of young guards, including 6'2" SO Meechie Johnson and 6'5" FR Malaki Branham. Both are talented and have shown flashes of potential but have not yet demonstrated anything resembling consistency. Johnson started the first game of the year but has come off the bench since. He is a good shooter and made a clutch 3 to help beat Seton Hall earlier this week. Against Florida, he was a no-show, scoring just 2 points on 1-7 shooting to go along with 3 TOs and 2 asts in 22 minutes. Johnson has been more of a dedicated shooter for Ohio State this year, rarely venturing into the restricted area with the ball. Branham, the Columbus native, has been starting in place of Johnson and has been ok so far. He's much more of a slasher to the rim and provides a more complete all-around game. Super Senior Jimmy Sotos, the former Bucknell player, is the reserve guard. He is in his second year for Ohio State and has mostly settled in for taking 3's when given the opportunity.

    The SF position is currently occupied by 6'6" SR Justin Ahrens, a dedicated gunner. Ahrens has been starting in place of injured F Justice Sueing. Ahrens is a lot like Joey Baker, a player that provides shooting and not a whole lot else. Both play hard, I suppose. Ahrens is much more of an extreme player, having attempted (and missed) one FG attempt inside the arc on the season. SO Eugene Brown is getting a few spot minutes as a reserve SF as well with limited impact.

    This Ohio State team has one stud, a very solid group of frontcourt players, and an ongoing search for backcourt production. After staring the season ranked and aspirations of competing in the B1G, the Buckeyes struggled to start the year against Akron, winning by 1. They steadily improved but have dropped 2 out of the last 3 against high-major competition. All were close games with the losses to Xavier and Florida by a combined 8 points. The Buckeyes score efficiently, mostly due to Liddell's excellence and good 3-point shooting. They play a slow pace of play and are getting absolutely killed on the offensive glass. The frontcourt should struggle against Duke's size and length. Outside of Joey Brunk, they don't have the size to compete with Williams on the glass. So long as the Banchero-Liddell matchup is a wash, Duke will have advantages at every other position. Duke is also playing efficiently in the halfcourt as the season progresses and are now 5th in the nation in offensive TO%. While Jamari Wheeler is a good defender and Malachi Branham has done a good job generating a few steals per game, OSU has not been able to force turnovers very often. Duke has valued the basketball this season and has used that to take down Kentucky and Gonzaga. The Duke backcourt, in particular Wendell Moore, has a serious advantage in this matchup.

    KenPom and T-Rank view this as a relative toss-up given that the game is in Columbus. Still, Duke should be the #1 or #2 team on Tuesday night and favored against a team that has struggled since making a last-minute bucket to get past Akron. Still, it will be a home game and everyone gets up to play Duke. After a big win over Gonzaga late Friday night, will the Blue Devils be ready to face a fully hostile crowd for the first time?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Raleigh, NC
    I worry about our lack of experience in big games Ö..

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by tkg View Post
    i worry about our lack of experience in big games …..
    Hahaha right

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Greenville, SC
    The OSU game worries me.

    I always worry about the next game following a big win, or a big loss, or a regular win, or any loss, or the first game of the season.


    Okay, I worry about every game.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by camion View Post
    The OSU game worries me.

    I always worry about the next game following a big win, or a big loss, or a regular win, or any loss, or the first game of the season.


    Okay, I worry about every game.
    There are reasons to be worried. It'll be the first true road game. Can the team generate its own energy without crowd support?

    As you mentioned, this is following a big win over Gonzaga. How much of a letdown can Duke expect?

    This is where I am so glad Wendell Moore (and Joey Baker and sort of Theo John) is the captain of this team. He's been so consistent this season. He sets the tone. He's been in these situations before. Experience isn't everything, but it is something.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Iíll write it before the Duke haters jump on it: we are finally playing a true road game.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TKG View Post
    Iíll write it before the Duke haters jump on it: we are finally playing a true road game.
    One more non-conference true road game than Gonzaga and Purdue are combining to play this season

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidBenAkiva View Post
    One more non-conference true road game than Gonzaga and Purdue are combining to play this season
    Oh, I agree with you DBA. But for those looking to disparage our early season success just thought I would try to front run it. Not that they will stop whining about something else (refs, etc).

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidBenAkiva View Post
    Still, he's undersized at just 6'7" but has long arms and a keen understanding of angels.
    Terrific summary and scouting report as always! Because I'm a silly person, though, my favorite part is definitely the typo that makes EJ Liddell's excellence theological rather than athletic.

    More seriously, though, this is a really interesting matchup. OSU has some heft but not a ton of height the frontcourt, and they have just a ton of interchangeable pieces (9 guys play 15 min+, and as DBA mentions here, that's not even counting Brunk, who has started the last couple of games!). It'll be one where we'll need to make sure to stay out of foul trouble: a tough assignment for the bigs in particular, on the road and against a guy in Liddell who is exceedingly crafty offensively. Could be a good opportunity for AJ to get some burn. And here's hoping that Mark doesn't get clean blocks called against him this time around...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TKG View Post
    Oh, I agree with you DBA. But for those looking to disparage our early season success just thought I would try to front run it. Not that they will stop whining about something else (refs, etc).
    With conferences expanding to 20-game schedules, there just isn't room for many teams to play true road games. I haven't looked into it, but there have to be more high-major teams playing 0 out-of-conference road games than those that are playing 2 or more.

    But you're right. The haters are going to find something. Might as well go into the old bag for the same tired stuff. I hope they come up with something new next year.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Durham
    I was out last night with a friend and his twin sons who go to Villanova. A team canít play in the ncaas in an arena where they played more than a few regular season games. Nova does a few home and home non-conference series but does the home games the years when Wells Fargo isnít hosting the NCAAs. They play most games on campus but a few at Wells Fargo. So, for instance, they played at UCLA this year since Philly is hosting a regional. It might not end up mattering but good to be prepared.
       

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Dallas, TX
    This will be a really tough road game, maybe almost as tough as the Gonzaga game. Definitely some trap game potential here, even though it's against a ranked opponent. Stay focused and stay hungry!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by kAzE View Post
    This will be a really tough road game, maybe almost as tough as the Gonzaga game. Definitely some trap game potential here, even though it's against a ranked opponent. Stay focused and stay hungry!
    I know OSU has fallen just out of the polls after a couple close losses to decent teams, but I'm not sure I would consider a game a trap game. This is still a decent OSU team fully capable of beating us straight up.
    1200. DDMF.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by kAzE View Post
    This will be a really tough road game, maybe almost as tough as the Gonzaga game. Definitely some trap game potential here, even though it's against a ranked opponent. Stay focused and stay hungry!
    Ohio State was not ranked in either the AP or Coaches poll and lost to Florida earlier this week. I doubt they'll be ranked next week. They are 24th in KenPom, though. I think they are a borderline top 25 team most of this season. This is a good prep game for what a lot of the ACC schedule will be like. Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Louisville are all right around there.

  15. #15
    What is the definition of a trap game? I thought it was a lesser one between two big ones. How does this fit the trap narrative?
       

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    What is the definition of a trap game? I thought it was a lesser one between two big ones. How does this fit the trap narrative?
    I always thought a trap game was when you overlooked the opponent in front of you for the big game coming up afterwards. This isn't a trap game in my mind. It's a potential letdown after beating Gonzaga.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    What is the definition of a trap game? I thought it was a lesser one between two big ones. How does this fit the trap narrative?
    Easy:

    "we just beat the #1 team in the country, so this next one should be a piece of cake"

    Is there a hard definition for a trap game? I don't believe a trap game has to be in between 2 bigger games, it's just a game that ends up being harder than you planned for (if you fall into the trap). Not that I think anybody on the team thinks like that. But Ohio State will be desperate after a bad week and extra fired up in front of their extra amped up home fans because Duke will be #1. It's gonna be a really hard game, but Coach K appears to have these guys laser focused and Wendell Moore is doing a Shane Battier impersonation with his leadership, so I like our chances.
    Last edited by kAzE; 11-27-2021 at 03:35 PM.

  18. #18
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    Boston, MA
    Quote Originally Posted by kAzE View Post
    Easy:

    "we just beat the #1 team in the country, so this next one should be a piece of cake"
    Trap games are usually Ďwe play highly ranked team Y in 4 days but mediocre team X is tomorrowí. Not sure I count OSU as a trap game. There isnít a team after OSU who we are looking forward to. Itís basically OSU until the start of the ACC season.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  19. #19
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    Mar 2008
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    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    How does this fit the trap narrative?
    Listen to your commanding officer!

    ohiostate.jpg

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    What is the definition of a trap game? I thought it was a lesser one between two big ones. How does this fit the trap narrative?
    "a loss which we can pre-rationalize for potentially dubious reasons"
    1200. DDMF.

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