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Back the Blue Devils to prevail in ACC/Big10 Challenge


On Wednesday night, Jon Scheyer’s Duke Blue Devils look to bounce back from an extremely disappointing 20-point loss to Purdue, and are set to square off with the 5-1 25th-ranked team in the nation- the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

The 17th-ranked Blue Devils, who enter this contest with a 6-2 record, will be looking to bounce back in a big way as they head to its home floor at Cameron Indoor for this Big-10/ACC showdown. Duke opened this matchup as just a 4-point favorite over the Buckeyes, but were instantly bet up to -5 as both public and sharp money seem to have taken a liking to the Blue Devils side in Wednesday night’s affair. While Duke has been fairly inconsistent offensively over its first six contests, the same can't be said for Ohio State who are coming off two stellar victories over Cincinnati and Texas Tech, both of which allowed 80 points to be scored by the Buckeyes offense.

Yesterday we had a small slate to work with so only one official pick went down, that pick however was a WINNER as he cash the same game parlay. Today with a much bigger slate there is an opportunity to profit with more free picks on the board with Pips.

Below, we’ll dive into this Wednesday night feature matchup in the ‘ACC/Big Ten challenge’, as the Blue Devils look to improve upon last year’s showing versus Ohio State which resulted in a 5-point victory for the Buckeyes on its home floor in Columbus.

#17 Duke Blue Devils At a Glance 

Freshman Front Court 

Duke comes into the 2022-23 season with an extremely talented roster from top to bottom, after Scheyer secured an unbelievable 2022 recruiting class, featuring the likes of- 7-foot-1 center Dereck Lively, and the versatile 6-6 forward out of the highly-touted Montverde Academy- Dariq Whitehead. Lively and Whitehead add a ton of size and athleticism to a team who just lost its star Paolo Banchero, in addition to forward AJ Griffin to the NBA Draft. On top of losing a substantial part of its front court, they also lost guard Trevor Keels to the NBA as well. 

While Lively and Whitehead rank as the top two freshmen in the 2022 class coming into this season, some would argue that fellow 7-footer Kyle Filipowski was, in fact, the Blue Devils’ most impressive addition this past offseason. Filipowski, who was ranked seventh in the class of 2022, has been unbelievable over his first seven collegiate games, averaging 15.5 PPG on top of 9.5 Rebounds. Filipowski has been extremely consistent thus far, and has been stellar from beyond the arc which says a lot about his versatility.

The same can not be said of Duke’s top two recruits in Lively and Whitehead, both of whom have seen plenty of minutes yet have contributed very minimally to the Blue Devils’ first five victories. On top of its three top-10 BIGS, Scheyer also landed another top-30 recruit in power forward Mark Mitchell out of a small Christian Academy in Kansas. While most expected it to be Lively and Whitehead to have the larger role in the production of Scheyer’s offense, Mitchell has been far better, averaging 10 PPG and nearly 3.5 APG through his first 7 collegiate games. 

Blue Devils Backcourt 

Duke’s backcourt has been the far more impressive part of this young Blue Devils bunch, as they return Junior Guard Jeremy Roach who’s off to a great start this season averaging over 13 PPG in addition to 2.5 rebounds, and nearly 4 assists. While Roach is on the smaller side standing at just 6-2, he adds a lot of experience and athleticism to a young team in dire need of some veteran leadership. 

The other two who make up Duke’s backcourt this season are two 6-foot-5 guards- Tyrese Proctor and Jaden Schutt. While Schutt was also ranked as a top-50 freshman coming into the 2022-23 season, he has really been a non-factor on offense, and many are surprised to see Tyrese Proctor as the more notable guard alongside Roach running this Duke offense. Proctor entered this season pretty under the radar as he’s from Australia and there is far less tape to evaluate him upon, but his impact at the collegiate level has been immediate. The Australian shooting guard has been very impressive, a large part due to his length and versatility. Over his first few games as a Duke freshman, Proctor has put up 7 PPG on top of 5 Rebounds, and 2.5 Assists.

#25 Ohio State Buckeyes 

While Duke’s class of 2022 is considered by many to be the best in all of college basketball, the Buckeyes did not do so bad themselves, adding four top-60 recruits to a team desperate for talent and depth after losing its star forward from their past few seasons- EJ Liddel. 

New Faces

The Buckeyes top recruit of the 2022 class was the 6-6 forward out of Orlando, Brice Sensabaugh. While Sensabaugh is averaging less than 20 minutes per game over his first six collegiate games, he has been the brightest star for this Buckeye team thus far, averaging just under 16 PPG and doing so very efficiently, making over 50% of his field goal attempts thus far. At 240 pounds, Sensabaugh is a matchup problem for any defense, and I would definitely not be very surprised to see the Florida native get over 20 minutes on Wednesday night versus a Blue Devils defense that can actually match the Buckeyes’ athleticism. 

While Sensabaugh has been a major factor for this Buckeyes offense early-on, the 6-2 freshman point guard out of Georgia, Bruce Thornton, has certainly done the same. Thornton is seeing the most minutes of any of the four top-60 recruits in the Buckeyes’ 2022 class. In his first six games, Thornton is averaging just under 10 PPG while hitting 50% of his FG Attempts on top of shooting an extremely impressive 48% from beyond the arc. For a team who formed a substantial part of their identity with the graduation of Liddell, Thornton has done an exceptional job leading this Ohio State team to five wins in its first six games.

Buckeye Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes' other two top-60 recruits are making a sizable impact, and will need to continue to do so against a Duke team with a massive size advantage. The 60th recruit in the class of 2022 is a 6-foot-11 forward out of Missouri, Felix Okpara. Okpara is a Nigerian defensive specialist, and it has shown over his first few collegiate games as he’s averaging over 1.5 blocks per game thus far. 

The Buckeyes face a Blue Devils team with two very highly touted 7-footers, and if they are to have any chance to stay in this game, there’s no doubt that Okpara will need to play a vital role defensively, especially with how hot Duke freshman Kyle Filipowski has been for Scheyer’s bunch. 

How Do they Match-Up?

This is definitely the feature matchup of the Big 10/ACC Challenge, and there’s certainly a big revenge narrative on the minds of this Duke team who fell to Ohio State in this same game last season as the No. 1 team in the country. However, there are vast differences between the core on both of these teams from last season to this one. While Duke did lose Banchero this offseason, I would argue that the Buckeyes losing Liddell is far more significant to this matchup. 

Over the last few years, this Duke program has had tremendous success from a recruiting standpoint, and they have grown pretty accustomed to recycling elite freshman talent year after year yet still maintaining the ability to perform at a high level. While Ohio State has also had some great teams in recent years, this is certainly the youngest team that Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann has ever coached. Aside from Junior Zed Kay who has been a great two-way player for the Buckeyes thus far, Holtmann’s freshman, particularly Sensabaugh and Thornton, will need to have big performances offensively if they are to match up with a Duke team this loaded with talent.

After a double-digit loss to a great San Diego State team, the Buckeyes have bounced back in a big way, running over Cincinnati by 30 points, on top of defeating a Texas Tech program that has had a ton of success in recent years. However, Duke is a pretty substantial step up from those two opponents. Ohio State is gonna need a spectacular shooting performance particularly from 3-point land, and I just don’t see that happening versus a Duke team that has defended the perimeter pretty well thus far (aside from the Purdue matchup). While Felix Okpara should do a good job containing Filipowski and Lively down-low, he's the only player in this Buckeyes lineup big enough to match up with Scheyer’s young front court. 

Betting Prediction

Ohio State has certainly been very impressive in Holtmann’s sixth year at the helm, winning five of its first six contests. However, this is a prime situational spot for the Blue Devils coming off a rough defeat, and will look to push the pace right from the jump to try and take an early lead. I expect Duke to control the pace of this game, and I think the Blue Devils massive size advantage will be extremely problematic for the Buckeyes.

I placed two wagers on the Blue Devils to both cover their first half and full game numbers. I bet Duke at -4 with -120 juice Tuesday night on DraftKings, and also bet on them to cover their 1H number of -3 earlier today at Bet MGM. I expect Duke to dominate tonight from the get-go, and believe they should control this game and win by double digits at Cameron Indoor. 

Wagers⇒ Duke -4 (-120) (2u)

                 Duke 1H -3