Today's Specials: Ohio State and Duke tangle in top-five battle
Ohio State might not be a top-five team, but the Buckeyes will test No. 2 Duke. Also, will Michigan State or Miami get on the right track?
|Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft will need some help if Ohio State is to upset Duke in Durham. (US Presswire)|
Several teams sent messages on Tuesday during the first day of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but none of the games were overly competitive from start to finish. With a top-five matchup on the docket for Wednesday, maybe that will change.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (9:30 p.m., ESPN). According to the rankings, this might be the best nonconference game of the season. According to reality, Ohio State isn’t a top-five (or top-10) team. With that said, the Buckeyes will look to prove themselves against a Duke team that is the talk of the nation after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis. Deshaun Thomas has the ability to carry the Ohio State offense, and he will prove to be a difficult matchup for Ryan Kelly. Meanwhile, can Aaron Craft pester Seth Curry into an off night? Duke is at home, so it gets the edge.
Second-best game: No. 13 Michigan State Spartans at Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes (7:30 p.m., ESPN). Neither team has looked great, with Michigan State losing its opener to Connecticut and surviving multiple close games and Miami dropping a game to Florida Gulf Coast. That said, Miami looked better with Durand Scott back from suspension and Reggie Johnson should be in the lineup. On the other hand, Michigan State is without freshman guard Gary Harris for the next couple of weeks. Keith Appling will have to continue playing well, and Michigan State has to hold its own inside.
Another one to watch: The rest of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. There wasn’t a clear-cut third-best game of the night, but it will be interesting to see if the ACC can come back and win the 2012 challenge. They are down 4-2 heading onto Wednesday night, and a best-case scenario seems like a 6-6 tie. Virginia Cavaliers visits Wisconsin Badgers (7 p.m., ESPN2) in a slow-it-down game; Purdue Boilermakers faces Clemson Tigers (7:15 p.m., ESPNU) in a battle of two teams looking to figure things out; Illinois Fighting Illini puts its undefeated record on the line against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9 p.m., ESPN2); and a thoroughly unexciting game will also take place with Boston College Eagles at Penn State Nittany Lions (9:15 p.m., ESPNU).
Guaranteed win: Jack Murphy is doing good things at Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on the recruiting trail, but the Lumberjacks are going to struggle against No. 9 Arizona Wildcats (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network). They simply don’t have an answer for Arizona’s big and loaded frontline.
Potential upset: Oklahoma Sooners should contend for a potential bubble spot in the Big 12, but the Sooners have to visit in-state opponent Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (8 p.m., ESPN3). The Golden Eagles have some good talent in the frontcourt and should be able to hold their own against Oklahoma’s big men. Can they slow down Steven Pledger on the perimeter and get a win?
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Washington Huskies has struggled mightily, but the Huskies can right the ship when they host Saint Louis Billikens (Midnight, Pac-12 Network).
- Boise State Broncos took Michigan State to the wire before falling short, and the Broncos’ backcourt is playing well. They visit No. 11 Creighton Bluejays (8:05 p.m., ESPN3).
- Conference play kicks off tonight in the Southern Conference and MAAC. In the Southern: Western Carolina Catamounts at Furman Paladins (7 p.m.) and Elon Phoenix at Georgia Southern Eagles (7 p.m.). Nicholls State Colonels visits Iona Gaels in some MAAC action (7 p.m.).
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