College Basketball Game of the Week: No. 1 Duke vs. Ohio State

Story posted November 30, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Austin Groft

A battle between two stars, Paolo Banchero vs E.J. Liddell. Duke travels on the road to take on Ohio State for the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge. This is Duke’s first true road game as their matchups between Gonzaga and Kentucky were at neutral locations.

Scouting Duke

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has his team ranked No. 1 in the nation after an impressive victory over former No. 1 Gonzaga. In his final season coaching the Blue Devils, coach K is looking to end it on a high note.

Duke has so much talent. First, there’s Banchero. He is a 6-10 forward who can score easily on all three levels. In his 20-point half against Gonzaga, he scored a lot of his points in transition. This is a big guy who can pull up and hit a mid-range jumper at full speed with ease.

Banchero currently leads all true freshmen in scoring at 18.3 points per game. He has scored 20+ points in his last two games.

Trevor Keels is another talented freshman who can drop 20 points on any given night. He is more of a facilitator for Duke’s offense, but the nation saw his scoring abilities dropping 25 points against No. 10 Kentucky in the opening game of the season.

The Blue Devils have a nice blend of veteran players with young raw talent. Wendall Moore Jr. and Mark Williams have been sensational. Williams has scored double figures in his last four games.

ACC player of the week Moore Jr. has made huge improvements from last season averaging 17.9 points per game this year versus 9.7 in his sophomore campaign. He is the only power five conference player averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists per game.

Scouting Ohio State

The Buckeyes are also battle-tested playing in three games already this season that has been decided by one bucket. They have played two ranked opponents in Seton Hall and Florida. In their first road game, they lost a close game to Xavier who became ranked the week after.

Liddell has been carrying his team this season. He has been their leading scorer in all six of their games averaging 22.5 points per game, second in the Big Ten. He is a fundamental player who is good at using shot fakes and his pivot foot to score in the paint.

Other than Liddell, no other player on Ohio State is averaging double figures. Kyle Young and Zed Key are both averaging nine points per game and are two other big forwards that provide interior scoring for the Buckeyes.

The biggest question for Ohio State is their guard play. Losing Duane Washington Jr. to the NBA left a void in the backcourt. Their leading guard scorer is Justin Ahrens averaging 8.3 per game. He scored all his field goals from the 3-point line this year shooting 48% from beyond the arc.

An important starter who is overlooked at Ohio State is Jamari Wheeler. The Penn State transfer led the Big Ten in steals last year. He doesn’t do much in terms of scoring but leads the team with 23 assists and only 4 turnovers.

Prediction

Duke is 16-0 all-time on Nov. 30th and leads both conferences with a 19-3 record in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Ohio State has lost two of their three all in close games. The teams they have played do not match the talent of this Duke roster.

Ohio State’s guard play is inferior compared to Duke. Moore Jr. and Keels are bigger and stronger than the Buckeyes starting guards. With college basketball being so reliant on guard play, Duke has the edge in this matchup. Duke gets the big road victory.

Final Score: Duke 75, Ohio State 69

Austin Groft is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email atg5271@psu.edu