Buckeyes get first test versus Duke

The second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will get their first true test of the 2011-12 college basketball campaign Tuesday night when they host the third-ranked Duke Blue Devils.

Most sports books monitored by SportsOptions have installed Ohio State as a six-point home favorite, with the total set at 143. ESPN will televise the contest starting at 6:30 p.m. (PT).

Though the Buckeyes have had little trouble breezing to a 6-0 SU ledger, they have played a cupcake schedule. Ohio State has played just three board teams and has been favored by more than 20 points on two of those occasions. Additionally, all six games have been at home.

Ohio State began the season with a 73-42 trouncing of Wright State as a 27-point favorite, with the combined 115 points dipping ‘under’ the 127-point closing total.

Coach Thad Matta’s troops then captured three straight games against Jackson State (85-41), North Florida (85-50) and VMI (107-74). There was not a betting line posted for any of those matchups, as all three opponents are not board teams.

The Buckeyes are coming off last Friday’s 80-47 spanking of Valparaiso as whopping 22 ½-point home favorites. The combined 127 points ducked below the 141-point closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 2-1 in Ohio State’s first three board games.

William Buford, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Buckeyes, while 6-foot-9 sophomore Jared Sullinger registered his fourth straight double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Sullinger is shooting a sizzling 63 percent from the floor, making 38-of-60 field goal attempts.

Ohio State is ranked 12th in the country offensively (85.2 PPG) and 16th defensively (54.7 PPG). That 30.5 point differential is ranked second in the nation. The school also ranks fourth in assists with an average of 20.3 helpers per outing.

Duke enters this contest with a 7-0 SU and 3-4 ATS ledger, but the school has played a much more difficult schedule than the Buckeyes. The Blue Devils have defeated Michigan State (74-69), Tennessee (77-67), Michigan (82-75) and Kansas (68-61).

The Blue Devils covered the five-point spread in the most recent game (last Wednesday) against the Jayhawks. The combined 129 points fell well short of the 148 ½-point closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 5-2 in Duke’s first seven contests.

Mason Plumlee collected 17 points and 12 rebounds and Tyler Thornton came off the bench to hit two key three-point shots to give Duke the victory and enable the school to capture the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Duke has never lost in Maui, improving to 15-0.

Duke is averaging 79.4 PPG, good for 44th in the country. The school has knocked down 61 three-point shots and is shooting a sparkling 45.9 percent from long distance.

TRENDSETTER

The Blue Devils are 2-5 ATS in their last seven matchups against Big Ten teams, with the ‘over’ going 4-0 in the last four meetings with Big Ten opponents.

Ohio State is 7-2 ATS in its last nine non-conference games and 5-2 ATS in its last seven home encounters.

These two schools have not played since 2002 when Duke dumped Ohio State as a 15-point home favorite, 91-76.

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