Duke vs. Ohio State NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski will call it quits after this season. Will this be his “Last Dance”? Lance King/Getty Images/AFP

There’s a new No. 1 in the rankings, and we couldn’t pass up a free NCAA Basketball pick for Duke’s first defense as the top-ranked team when the Blue Devils travel to meet the Ohio State Buckeyes in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Duke Blue Devils vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 – 09:30 PM EST at Value City Arena

The Fourth Estate can’t get enough words out to the masses about Duke moving up to the top line on the two conventional polls as the season enters its fourth week. What with the 2021-22 campaign being Mike Krzyzewski’s final one as Blue Devils head coach, professional pundits and talking heads are already dreaming of a Hollywood ending to the tale.

It’s certainly no surprise to see Duke at No. 1 given the Blue Devils being tagged as one of the favorites by the folks who set the college basketball futures. It also wouldn’t be a surprise for Chris Holtmann and Ohio State to make Duke’s new No. 1 status short-lived. The Buckeyes are among the top teams in a deep Big Ten, and a signature win over the Blue Devils would sure help close out an otherwise disappointing month of November for Ohio State.

Dookies 6-2 on Road in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Holtman and his gang are small underdogs at home in Columbus after DraftKings opened Duke on a -3½ line. That number flattened to -3 overnight with extra juice on the Blue Devils, and 147 is the total.

Duke received 51 of the 61 first-place votes in the AP poll to firmly grab the top spot there, but things were a little closer with Purdue in the coaches rankings. The stage was set for Krzyzewski’s crew to move into the slot as soon as the Blue Devils sent former No. 1 Gonzaga down in defeat last Friday in Las Vegas. With the Bulldogs coming off a 20-point win over then-No. 2 UCLA, Duke closed as an 8½-point underdog and won the closely-fought battle 84-81.

The game lived up to the advanced hype surrounding all of the star power on both sides. Freshman sensation Paolo Banchero led all scorers with 21, while Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther chipped in a double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) on the evening. As well as Duke played, the loss was still a testament to how good the Bulldogs are. On an evening that Gonzaga committed an uncharacteristic 24 turnovers and shot 6-21 from 3-point range, the Bulldogs were still in it.

Buckeyes Looking to Regroup After Tough Loss to Gators

Maybe a return to their home floor will help the Buckeyes. Ohio State was flat at Xavier a week before Thanksgiving, but still clawed back to get within two points near the end of that one only to fall by a 71-65 count. The Buckeyes then traveled to the Fort Myers Tipoff Classic where they opened with a mild 79-76 upset of Seton Hall.

Ohio State next had to take on Florida and a very pro-Gators crowd in the championship game of the tourney, and suffered a heartbreaking 71-68 defeat on a buzzer-beating three. Online betting sites favored the Gators by 2½, and the game-ending shot by Tyree Appleby cashed those tickets for Florida backers. EJ Liddell led the Buckeyes with 23 points, and has 16 blocks over his last three games.

First Meeting Since 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Tuesday’s tilt marks the eighth meeting between the two programs, and Duke has the slimmest of advantages in the rivalry by winning four of the previous seven. The last three matchups have come in the interconference event, and the Blue Devils have hogged most of the headlines by going 19-3 against the Big Ten. Ohio State checks in with a 9-11 record against the ACC, with the Buckeyes winning their last two clashes (2020 Notre Dame, 2019 North Carolina).

In the 2012 meeting at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the betting odds at most sportsbooks favored the Blue Devils by 5½ on their home floor, and the spread was a half-point too high in Duke’s 73-68 decision. For a while it looked like Ohio State would get the straight-up upset in addition to the cover, but the Blue Devils mounted a huge second half comeback led by Mason Plumlee’s double-double (21 points, 17 rebounds). 

Ohio State is ridiculously dependent upon Liddell so far, the 6-7 junior being counted on to lead the Buckeyes on both ends of the floor. Duke, meanwhile, has talent to lean on all over the court. Yeah, I’m willing to bite on the Blue Devils covering as small road favorites.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Duke -3 (-115) at DraftKings