Beats' picks: Will No. 7-seed Duke women's basketball keep marching, take down Ohio State to advance to Sweet 16?

Senior center Kennedy Brown battles with Richmond's defenders in the post.
Senior center Kennedy Brown battles with Richmond's defenders in the post.

No. 7-seed Duke continues its NCAA tournament quest Sunday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio against No. 2-seed Ohio State. The Chronicle’s beat writers offer their predictions about whether the Blue Devils can spring the upset and book their spot in the Sweet 16:

Elle Chavis: Duke 64-63

This game will probably come down to the absolute last seconds as both teams battle it out for a coveted spot in the Sweet 16. I honestly wouldn’t even be surprised if it went into overtime. But, when the clock hits triple zeros, expect the Blue Devils to be on top. Battling back from being down at halftime against the Spiders proved to me that this Duke team has what it takes to fight against big-time opponents. Meeting up with a familiar foe in Celeste Taylor, the Blue Devils have the perfect opportunity to prove themselves even more. Yes, Ohio State has a high-powered offense, but Duke has the dominant defense to keep it in check and the speed to keep up. If the Blue Devils can slow the Buckeyes down and run their defensive scheme to perfection, I fully expect them to walk out on top of this matchup. 

Franck Djidjeu: Ohio State 68-56

The Blue Devils enter a heavyweight battle between two incredibly potent defenses. Unlike Duke, which excels at making shots as tough as possible for opponents and ranks second in the ACC in opponent field goal percentage, Ohio State thrives off forcing turnovers. The Buckeyes rank seventh in forced turnovers and fourth in turnover margin in the country, meaning they are just as capable of protecting the ball on the other end. In their last two losses following a 15-game winning streak, they only had a combined minus-two turnover differential. Therefore, if Duke is able to at least stay relative to the Buckeyes in the turnover battle, it will have a strong chance to win. However, I think this is a bit too tall of a task for such a young Blue Devil team which will fall just short but with a lot to look forward to.

Caleb Dudley: Ohio State 62-52

After sitting in the stands Friday and watching Ohio State dismantle Maine, I came away worried about the Blue Devils’ chances in the second round. The entire Buckeyes lineup was incredibly disruptive and athletic, and the press defense was nothing short of spectacular. Although Duke is no doubt prepared for the pressure, I think its general lack of experience will be its downfall. The crowd at the Schottenstein Center will be rocking, and I think an excellent veteran-laden lineup that features former Blue Devil Taylor will be just too much for head coach Kara Lawson’s young squad. 

Ryan Hamner: Duke 63-59

I haven’t picked against Duke all year, and after its comfortable win against Richmond, I won't start now. The Blue Devils are primed for another win, and there is no better evidence than their comeback win Friday. The victory against the Spiders showed maturity and an ability to win on the national stage. Like I said earlier, the win was just a tune-up, and Lawson’s squad is now ready for its biggest test of the year. With the continued momentum the Blue Devils have, I believe in their ability to get the victory again against Ohio State and one who used to be their own, Taylor.

Martin Heintzelman: Ohio State 68-63

This one is going to be tough, but not as tough as one might expect. Duke matches up relatively well against the Buckeyes, and has the speed to break the infamous Ohio State press without too much difficulty. It will come down to turnovers. The Buckeyes force about 21 per game, and Duke already gives the ball up nearly 17 times in a typical matchup. If the Blue Devils can beat then press and hold onto the ball, this is a winnable game. If the press works as intended and Ohio State can rack up easy transition points, look for this to be the end of Duke's season. 

Riya Khatod: Ohio State 74-66

Duke’s round of 32 challenge against Ohio State is bound to be a significantly more challenging matchup than its first round victory against Richmond. The Buckeyes enter the game with an impressive scoring prowess, boasting a season per-game average of 16.2 points more than their opponents. While their offensive output slightly wavers against high-caliber teams, they remain a formidable presence, especially on their home court where they average 83.1 points per game. Duke will use the defensive intensity that has been crucial to its success thus far to keep itself in this game. Ultimately, however, with Ohio State’s offensive strength and the advantage of playing in front of a home crowd, the Buckeyes are poised to continue marching to the Sweet 16.

Colton Schwabe: Ohio State 70-67

Duke’s performance in the round of 64 showed to all those watching that the Blue Devils have the potential to make a run in the tournament. The team doesn’t give up early and has scrappy defense with offensive streaks to fuel its play, but Ohio State was given its No. 2 seed for a reason. Taking down Iowa and national phenomenon Caitlin Clark in January, however, the Buckeyes have shown this season that they are immensely capable. I think that the Blue Devils will keep it close with their tournament fight before ultimately falling short.

Garrett Spooner: Ohio State 67-59

After getting off to a slow start against Richmond, the Blue Devils showed an impressive willpower to fight back and overcome the Spiders in their 72-61 win. As I predicted, Reigan Richardson needed to have a big game, and she did, scoring 25 points and adding seven boards. In this one, though, Ohio State just has too much firepower. Jacy Sheldon and Cotie McMahon average 18 and 14 points per contest, respectively, and that fails to mention former standout Duke guard Taylor. Expect Duke to rely on its defense to keep this one close, but in the end, the Buckeyes will come out on top. 


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