In the 17th-ranked Blue Devils' first matchup since falling to now-No. 5 Purdue, they take on a tough Ohio State crew. As Duke hosts its leg of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Blue Zone has you ready with our can't-miss prop bets:
Duke (-5.5) vs. Ohio State
Coming off a big 75-56 loss Sunday against Purdue in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament, the Blue Devils need a comeback. Wednesday’s matchup against No. 25 Ohio State could be the perfect opportunity to exact revenge in more than one way. While getting back on the winning track after a disappointing championship performance is important, Duke has a history against the Buckeyes. In last year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup, the top-ranked Blue Devils traveled to Columbus, Ohio, where they were expected to win. Instead, Ohio State, trailing by 13 at halftime, made a huge comeback to take the crown.
While some doubt the abilities of this year’s Duke team, the squad hasn't played to the potential they are capable of. The Buckeyes will undoubtedly pose a challenge, but the Blue Devils will be out for vengeance. As freshmen Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead continue to shake off the rust, combined with captain Jeremy Roach’s leadership, Jaylen Blakes' defense and Ryan Young’s skills at the rim, this Duke team will get better and better. Ohio State is the perfect opponent for the Blue Devils to get revenge and prove to the college basketball world that they aren't going down without a fight.
Nonetheless, the Blue Devils must be wary of their opponent. Freshman Brice Sensabaugh has had an impressive start to the season, with 95 points on the year on a 15.8 points average. The 6-foot-6 center is backed up by fellow forward Zed Key, whose 8.5 rebounds per game will have to go up against freshman Kyle Filipowski, who averages 9.4. Even though Ohio State will be a fierce competitor, the Blue Devils have the talent and abilities to shut down the Buckeyes with height advantages in the paint and stronger playmakers. Who takes the victory is all dependent on whether Duke decides to show up and show out in its return home.
Pick: Duke -5.5
Over/under 138.5 points
With two high-powered offenses squaring off, there will undoubtedly be plenty of buckets to drive up the score. Even if both teams are capable of solid, lockdown defense, the young talent on both sides will ensure that they get their team on the scoreboard in big ways. The only hiccup to such a high-scoring game is if both teams have a poor shot conversion. In the Phil Knight Legacy tournament, Duke struggled with the rock in its hands, making only 26.7% of shots against Oregon State and 36.2% against Purdue. That being said, the Blue Devils and Ohio State have averaged 70.8 and 79.3 points a game, respectively. With plenty of talent in the paint and beyond the arc, a high-scoring night is not out of the question. If neither team produces a big output, then it will come down to a battle of the defenses.
Pick: Over 138.5
Jeremy Roach over/under five assists:
The junior out of Leesburg, Va., may be a talented scorer, as he has the second most points on the team, but head coach Jon Scheyer's role for him is primarily as a playmaker and engine to the offense. The guard averages 3.6 assists a game, surpassing his 3.2 average from last year. When Duke is at its best, Roach is even more productive, doling out four or more assists per game. Teams mostly have success against the Blue Devils when they shut down Roach’s passing ability. Purdue successfully kept him in check with just two assists, while Kansas only let him help out a teammate once. If Ohio State focuses on other big names and high-scoring players, such as Lively, Filipowski or Young, Roach will have the room to drive the Blue Devil offense in any way he sees fit. And if he has a good night assisting, the odds are in favor of a Duke victory.
Pick: Over five
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Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity first-year and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.