I am so excited to be calling Tuesday night's showdown between a pair of top five teams. Columbus should be rocking and rolling as a pair of unbeatens, Duke and Ohio State, square off in a marquee match-up of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. That place is going to be a nuthouse.
I love this series of games because it is not cupcake city, baby! Both teams have had early tests and gone to the winner's circle. The Buckeyes got a W against a talented Florida team. The Blue Devils gave Coach K a record-breaking win number 903 by beating Michigan State at the Mecca, Madison Square Garden. Then Duke went out and won the Maui Invitational, beating Tennessee, Michigan and a tough Kansas club.
My friends, this is going to be a little different. Going into a hostile environment to face Jared Sullinger and company is a real test. This should prepare the Dukies for conference play and later on, tournament action. That is how wild this environment should be.
For Ohio State, it is the seventh straight home game. In all, the Buckeyes open the season with eight in a row at Columbus.
This is a great opportunity for both Thad Matta and Mike Krzyzewski to get a true evaluation of how far their teams have come in the first month of the regular season. These are two Goliaths going at it.
Ohio State has great inside play with Sullinger. Duke has to contain him with the Plumlee brothers needing to be active in the paint, forcing the Buckeye big man to play defense against them too. Sullinger is a legit Player of the Year candidate.
William Buford could put points on the board quickly from the wing. He totaled 48 points in the last two games.
Ryan Kelly was consistent as the MVP in Maui, scoring 17 points in each game. Duke also got big plays from Tyler Thornton in the final at Maui. That's right, not Austin Rivers or Seth Curry, but Mr. Thornton.
The trifecta is going to be a key for the Blue Devils. Duke also has to limit turnovers against Craft. The Blue Devils want to try to keep the crowd noise down by keeping the momentum away from Ohio State.
Ohio State needs a dominant game from Sullinger, who has to stay out of foul trouble. Craft must get the Buckeyes into their offensive sets against Duke's pressure. Buford must have his usual solid game.
There will be a buzz in the air in Columbus.
There are other great match-ups in this event. What about North Carolina trying to bounce back from a loss to UNLV? Roy Williams' team has a test against unbeaten Wisconsin. The Badgers have put on a blitz but they need a magical performance with Jordan Taylor shining down in Chapel Hill. This should be excitement galore.
The Michigan State-Florida State game should provide some intrigue as well. Tom Izzo's team is coming off a road win against Eastern Michigan. The Seminoles lost to Harvard and Connecticut down at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and must regroup for this test.
I love the pride and passion of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Buckeyes and Blue Devils should put on a great show on Tuesday night. I cannot wait to get there and call the game with my buddy Dan Shulman.
It should be awesome, baby with a capital A!