Big Ten-ACC Challenge Week is HERE!
I admit my bias...I want the Big Ten to kick some serious tail over the next couple days and claim victory.
After watching bits and pieces of the first few games, I really think it's possible. And then I settled in to watch OSU-Duke....and the Buckeyes blew my mind.
For lack of a better term, I'm going to be unoriginal and simply say that Ohio State was clicking on all cylinders. The energy and excitement in Value City Arena was so strong, I could feel it crackling through my television.
Ohio State came out ready to play and took total control from the opening tip...as evidenced by the fact they went up 11-0. The Blue Devils seemed shocked. OSU took away their rhythm and despite their best effort, they never really got it back. I've seen Duke play a couple of other times, so I KNOW they were better than what they showed. Instead of trying to go inside (which worked the few times they did it), they mostly jacked up 3s early in the shot clock, danced around the perimeter and made stupid fouls. I know Jared Sullinger is intimidating and very skilled, but Duke has enough size to combat that...but they didn't. For whatever reason, it was an off night...and unfortunately for them, EVERYTHING was going right for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State played a complete game on all ends of the floor--their defense was stifling, they harassed and hounded Duke players without fouling too much, moved the ball seamlessly on the offensive end (and showed great patience in doing so), took great shots and shared the ball...the assists were unreal. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this was a fantastic game for them and I doubt EVERY game will be like that...but that being said, it was the first time I had seen Ohio State play this season and WOW was I impressed. They really do have a complete team. Top 3: Aaron Craft is a defensive star and can run the point well, Jared Sullinger creates such a strong presence in the post and William Buford is the most dangerous. He can do it all--everywhere--and somehow gets lost in all the Sullinger/Craft talk...then BAM! He's lighting you up.
The one criticism they keep getting is that they aren't "deep." It will be interesting to watch if and how that affects them down the stretch...but I know enough to know I'll still be watching.