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What should you know before Duke men's basketball takes on Ohio State?

Wendell Moore Jr., is averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists. this season.
Wendell Moore Jr., is averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists. this season.

Duke has had some impressive wins thus far. The Blue Devils are now 7-0 and have taken down Kentucky and Gonzaga, which were ranked at No. 10 and No. 1, respectively, at the time of the games. The Blue Devils have been solid both defensively and offensively, beating their opponents by an average of 21 points, but there’s one caveat that concerns these successes: Duke has not played a true road game. Yes, their hard-fought wins against their ranked opponents were in New York and Las Vegas—but Duke fans travel well. 

This Tuesday’s matchup against the Buckeyes will be the Blue Devils’ first test as a real away team where the majority of fans will be expressing their sincere hate for Duke. Here are five things to look for during the ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup between Duke and Ohio State.

Something to prove

Even though Ohio State is currently unranked, the Buckeyes have a strong basketball program. The Buckeyes are 4-2, with one of those wins being against a tough No. 25 Seton Hall squad. Their two losses have been close games against quality teams: No. 14 Florida and Xavier, who just fell out of the top 25. A win against the Blue Devils would be a statement win for the Buckeyes, and it might just make them ranked. At the same time, Duke wants to retain its respected status as the No. 1 team in the country after it impressively took down Gonzaga Friday. Both teams have something to prove, and it will be interesting to see which team settles down first and plays its style of basketball.

Blocks, blocks, blocks

Against the Bulldogs, Mark Williams tallied five blocked shots. As it turns out, such a statline isn’t all that impressive to the Buckeyes. Duke and Ohio State are currently in the top 50 for blocks per game with the Blue Devils averaging 5.1 per game and the Buckeyes averaging 6.0 per game. Expect to see many jump shots and a lot of creativity in the paint as it's clear that both teams are great at defending this area.

Junior matchup

Duke’s junior captain Wendell Moore Jr., and Ohio State’s junior forward EJ Liddell have been playing incredible basketball. Moore is averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game while Liddell is averaging 22.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks. These two players have developed into forces on the court and there’s no doubt that they’ll be matching up on Tuesday, making for an exciting pairing as both players and leaders on their teams showcase their abilities. 

Experience vs. young talent

Against the Buckeyes, it’s likely that the younger players on this Duke squad will run into a problem the program always faces: a very experienced opponent. Ohio State has three seniors and six graduate students while Duke has just one senior and two graduate students. This will be a test for freshmen Paolo Banchero, Trevor Keels, A.J. Griffin and Jaylen Blakes to see how they utilize their talent to handle veteran players. Captains Wendell Moore Jr. and Joey Baker will play a very important role on Tuesday as they will be responsible for mentally preparing Duke’s young guys for an experienced team.

Stakes for all-time series 

Duke and Ohio State are playing for the first time since 2012, when the Blue Devils beat the Buckeyes 73-68 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke leads the all-time series 4-3, which gives Ohio State the opportunity to tie it up this year. Given that Duke has a target on its back, head coach Chris Holtmann and his squad will do everything they can in order to strip this winning record from the Blue Devils. 

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