Originally Published: November 25, 2012

Feast Week an appetizer to Challenge duels

By Robbi Pickeral

Ohio State guard Shannon Scott figures the Blue Devils have been thinking about this one.

A year after OSU dismantled Duke 85-63 -- exposing the Blue Devils' lackadaisical defense by shooting 59 percent and dominating so overwhelmingly that coach Mike Krzyzewski said he was left just trying to figure out a way not to lose by 30 -- it's rematch time Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

"We know we're probably circled on their calendar," Scott, who is averaging 7.3 points for the 4-0 Buckeyes, told reporters Friday night. "We're just going to be there and be ready for them."

Duke's players may indeed have a neon asterisk next to this week's showdown, but unlike the Buckeyes, they haven't had a whole lot of time to look forward to it. At least not yet.

While this will mark No. 3 Ohio State's first matchup against a ranked opponent and its first game this season on a foe's home court, the fifth-ranked Blue Devils have already been tested (and passed) on multiple occasions. They beat top-5 Kentucky in the Champions Classic in Atlanta, then topped potential March foes in Minnesota and VCU before toppling No. 2 Louisville 76-71 on Saturday night to take the Battle 4 Atlantis crown.

"We're hungry," Duke point guard Quinn Cook told ESPN.com's Jason King after the Devils' latest victory "I don't think we're satisfied. We've got to keep getting better."

Here are four more matchups to circle on your viewing calendars this week:

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Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireAgainst his hometown school, Andre Hollins scored 41 points. It was the most by a Minnesota player in 41 years.

Minnesota at Florida State, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2

This one features a couple of sharpshooting guards in Gophers sophomore Andre Hollins (who scored a career-high 41 points against Memphis at Atlantis on Friday) and Seminoles senior Michael Snaer (MVP of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic). And it features a couple of teams looking to prove they are, perhaps, a bit underrated.

Minnesota is coming off a 66-63 win over Stanford in the Bahamas, where Hollins came up big again (scoring three free throws with 0.4 seconds left to win the fifth-place game). An 18-point defeat by Duke in the opening game of that tournament remains the only L on the Gophers' record.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles have won four straight -- including the CVS Classic title -- and it looks like they have recovered from their shocking season-opening loss to South Alabama, which pushed them out of the Top 25.

This is a barometer game for both.

NC State at Michigan, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Wolfpack have defeated a team ranked in The Associated Press top 5 on 46 occasions in their history -- but not since 2007, when they beat then-No. 3 UNC in Raleigh.

Adding a 47th to their books this week would be a much-needed résumeé- and confidence-builder. After watching NC State get embarrassed by Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico a week ago, and then survive UNC Asheville by only two points Friday, there are a lot of early questions about whether this once top-10 team, which was picked to win the ACC, was overestimated early.

The undefeated Wolverines, winners of the 2012 NIT Season Tip-Off, pose a stiff challenge. Not only do they feature the talented sons of two former NBA All-Stars (forward Glenn Robinson III and guard Tim Hardaway Jr.), but they're led by a preseason All-American in sophomore guard Trey Burke, a speedy headache for any opposing foe.

Can NC State rebuild their expectations, or will the Wolverines play up to theirs?

North Carolina at Indiana, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Talk about turnabout. The last time these two teams met in Bloomington, Ind., the Sean May-Raymond Felton-Rashad McCants-led Tar Heels won en route to the 2005 NCAA championship. But this time around, it's the Hoosiers who are ranked No. 1 -- and it's the Heels who are trying to pull the upset.

While Indiana passed a huge test last week, outlasting a confident Georgetown team to win the Legends Classic, No. 9 UNC failed to even make it to the Maui Invitational championship game, trailing by as many as 29 points (and ultimately losing) to Butler.

There will be a lot of eyes on the lane in this one, as Carolina's mostly inexperienced post players try to slow favorite-to-win-All-Everything Cody Zeller. But the battle of the backcourt should be interesting, too, as freshman point guards Yogi Ferrell and Marcus Paige (teammates in the McDonald's All-America Game, and two of the top three ball handlers in the rookie class) go at it.

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Daniel Shirey/US PresswireThe young Wildcats will face their first road test with Thursday's game at Notre Dame.

Kentucky at Notre Dame, Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

The Fighting Irish got dropped from the rankings last week after losing to Saint Joseph's in overtime during the CvC Classic, but they should pose a sturdy test for the Wildcats, who have played a relatively light schedule since surviving Maryland by three points then losing to Duke by seven (both on neutral courts).

In its first true road game of the season, youth-packed Kentucky plays a Notre Dame team in the SEC/Big East Challenge that returns the same five starters from last season -- including 6-foot-9, 246-pound Jack Cooley, who is averaging a double-double (14.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg).

Star freshman Nerlens Noel is averaging 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Wildcats, who are awaiting the return of starting point guard Ryan Harrow. He's missed four games because of illness, and then to tend to a family issue.

Team of the Week: Duke

The Blue Devils, who continue to be the masters of the neutral court, have a legitimate claim to be the No. 1 team in the country when the polls come out Monday. No other team has knocked off two top-five squads this season, as Duke followed up a win over Kentucky at the Champions Classic with a win over Louisville at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Give coach Mike Krzyzewski credit for this: When his team is in these tournaments, he always wants the high-level opponents. He doesn't request softer openers like plenty of other coaches. The Blue Devils opened with a blowout of a talented Minnesota team that won its other two games in Atlantis, and then beat a VCU team that had just taken apart Memphis.

Indiana may have more of a ceiling and certainly hasn't done anything to deserve falling off its No. 1 perch. But polls are snapshots from week to week, not projections to March. And so far, Duke has done more on the court to be considered the top team in the country.

-- Andy Katz

Editor's note: This edition is for games played from Sunday, Nov. 18, to Saturday, Nov. 24.

Five more that impressed us

Indiana: The Hoosiers won the Legends Classic with a gritty overtime win over Georgetown after falling behind in the second half (as well as beating Georgia the previous night despite being down at the half). Indiana is still not whole with Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin not eligible yet. But IU dealt with foul trouble and found other ways to score in Brooklyn, even relying at times on Jordan Hulls, which worked out quite well.

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AP Photo/David BeckerCreighton is off to a 6-0 start after winning the Las Vegas Invitational.

Michigan: The Wolverines won the NIT Season Tip-Off by taking down the two toughest teams in the field in New York with wins over Pitt and Kansas State. Michigan showed it can play at multiple speeds with the fleet Trey Burke leading the break with Tim Hardaway Jr. as a running mate and the beef inside from Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III.

Creighton: Out in Vegas, the Bluejays won the Las Vegas Invitational by taking out Wisconsin and much-improved Arizona State. Creighton showed it isn't a one-man team, but still that one man -- Doug McDermott -- is pretty darn good and a legit national player of the year candidate.

Illinois: The Illini shocked the Maui field by winning the tournament in what was supposed to be a rebuilding situation for John Groce. Those expectations now must be adjusted. Illinois took out USC handily, coasted past Chaminade and then notched a 17-point win over a Butler team that had just blown out UNC and certainly will be in the mix in the A-10. The Big Ten just got deeper, folks.

Oklahoma State: Our week goes from Sunday to Saturday now, so we have to include the Cowboys on this list after they knocked off then-No. 6 NC State to win the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in convincing fashion. OSU showed poise and put on display arguably one of the best players in the country in freshman Marcus Smart. If Oklahoma State doesn't let the newfound hype get to its collective head, this team could have a special season.

Shoutout-worthy: Cincinnati, New Mexico, Kansas, Charleston, Northwestern, Butler, Minnesota, Charlotte

-- Andy Katz

The Weekly Starting Five

As Andy Katz denotes in the video at the top of this page, Brandon Paul of Illinois was our Player of the Week. Here are five more players who stood out during the week that was:

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Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireQuinn Cook scored Duke's final eight points as the Blue Devils held off No. 2 Louisville in the Bahamas.

Quinn Cook, Duke: The sophomore guard emerged this week at the Battle 4 Atlantis. He was named tourney MVP after registering 17 points and four assists in a win over Minnesota on Thursday, nine points and nine assists in Friday's victory against VCU and 15 points (6-for-6 from the charity stripe) and six assists in Saturday's 76-71 win against No. 2 Louisville. Cook scored Duke's final eight points in the title game.

Andre Hollins, Minnesota: The sophomore scored a career-high 41 points -- the most points by any Minnesota player since 1971 -- in the Gophers' 84-75 win over No. 19 Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis. He struggled in Saturday's 66-63 win over Stanford, but his three free throws with 0.4 seconds to play broke a tie and won the game for Minnesota.

Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott continued his bid for national player of year honors with another impressive week. After early struggles, the junior finished with 30 points and eight rebounds in Friday's 84-74 victory over Wisconsin in the Las Vegas Invitational. The Bluejays won the event the next night after McDermott dropped 29 points and nine rebounds in his team's 87-73 win against Arizona State.

Jack Taylor, Grinnell: OK, so this space is usually reserved for Division I players. But Taylor established an NCAA record Tuesday when he scored 138 points in a victory over Faith Baptist Bible. He was 52-for-108 from the field, including 27-for-71 from beyond the 3-point line. The rest of the team took just 28 shots.

Jeff Withey, Kansas: Withey led the Jayhawks to the CBE Classic title with 25 points, five rebounds and seven blocks in Tuesday's 73-59 win against Saint Louis. The 25 points matched his career high. He played only 19 minutes in Monday's 78-41 victory over Washington State, but he scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds and swatted five shots.

Other performances of note:

Rotnei Clarke, Butler: 20 points and a game-winning 3-pointer in win over Marquette; 17 points in upset of North Carolina; 27 points in loss to Illinois in Maui Invitational title game.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan: 16 points and four rebounds in win over Pitt on Wednesday; 23 points and seven rebounds in win over Kansas State to take home NIT Season Tip-off title.

Elias Harris, Gonzaga: 16 points and 18 rebounds in win over South Dakota; 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists in victory against Clemson; 18 points and four rebounds in victory over Oklahoma.

Jordan Hulls, Indiana: 14 points (4-for-6 from 3-point line) in victory over Georgia; 17 points (3-for-6 from 3-point line) in overtime win against Georgetown.

Mason Plumlee, Duke: 20 points and 17 rebounds in 89-71 win over Minnesota; 17 points and 10 rebounds in win against VCU; 16 points and seven rebounds in victory over Louisville to win Battle 4 Atlantis tourney.

Cashmere Wright, Cincinnati: 28 points in win over Campbell; 14 points and three steals in win against Iowa State; 17 points in Saturday's 77-66 win against Oregon in Global Sports Classic title game.

-- Myron Medcalf


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