The Ohio State Buckeyes faced their toughest test to date and perhaps of the entire 2012-2013 season Wednesday night against the Duke Blue Devils. Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Devils nurse a 96 game home non-conference winning streak as they play host to the basketball Bucks and for all Aaron Craft's offensive growth, the Buckeyes will need he and others to step up to supplement what Deshaun Thomas brings to the table. In order to discuss all things Buckeyes-Blue Devils, we welcome in Adam Rowe from Duke Hoop Blog for this edition of 5 minutes in the Holy Land. You can follow Adam on Twitter at @DukeHoopBlog as well as read he and I's conversation at Duke Hoop Blog here.
Duke's off to quite the mercurial start. Is this team as good as they've looked and realistically how long can they keep this sort of run alive and well?
I was very high on Duke coming into the season, but I may be a little biased. The combination of senior leadership with talented youngsters is one that always equals success. The biggest question mark I had before the team started playing was at the point guard position. This team will only go as far as Quinn Cook will take them. Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly are known quantities. If Cook can keep up his stellar play from early in the season, Duke can hang with anybody.
The Blue Devils are currently nursing a 96 game out of conference home winning streak (and the really crazy thing is it's not even their first 95 or greater streak). Talk some about the Cameron Indoor atmosphere for the uninitiated Ohio State faithful out there and given what you know about the Buckeyes, how can they make it 97?
The 96 is actually a school record, and they've also won 226 of their last 229. The Cameron Indoor atmosphere is intense, especially for games like tomorrow night, and students have been camping out since Sunday to get in. Unfortunately over the years, the bigger games that Duke plays are on neutral courts so when there is a big one, the fans really turn out. The students are well known for being some of the "craziest" in college basketball, but regardless of how witty they are, the true advantage comes from their proximity to the court.
Coach K's bench this season is sort of an unknown to us. While Duke's starters are averaging double figures scoring, is there any one in particular coming off the pine who could give the Buckeyes' fits?
The bench is unknown to everyone. Duke's starters have scored 91% of their points and accounted for 81% of their rebounds. None of the guys that will be subbing in are looked at as offensive weapons, but Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson will be leaned on to help Duke contain Thomas and LaQuinton Ross.
What's a Duke fan's perspective on the rest of the league? At face value, it doesn't seem to the be quite to the level of the ACC from the past couple years. Can the ACC win the ACC-Big Ten Challenge? And how many bids does the league lock down this spring?
The ACC is definitely down this year, and is still in somewhat of a transition phase after replacing nine coaches within the last four years. None of them have really had a chance to fully implement their systems yet so I don't think we will truly know whether they were good or bad hires for another year or two. There's no way ACC wins the Challenge. The Big Ten is too deep.
Finally, Quinn Cook's off to a solid start, but he hasn't gone against a defender of Aaron Craft's caliber. What sort of impact will his game have with arguably the nation's best on the ball defender hounding him and with Craft much improved offensively on the young season, how does Cook matchup in that regard?
As I mentioned above, Cook struggled against the pressure of Craft last season, but he wasn't fully healthy either. The sophomore has a noticeable confidence to his game this year, and has the luxury of already facing Craft once. Toughened up by early battles with Archie Goodwin of Kentucky, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith of Louisville and Andre Hollins of Minnesota, I think Cook is much more settled in this go around and should be able to hold his own.