Duke, Ohio State to meet in battle of top-three teams

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski isn't surprised his No. 3 Blue Devils (7-0) will face No. 2 Ohio State today in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

He made the prediction that the Buckeyes could become a power when he ran across Ohio State coach Thad Matta on the recruiting trail in 2004, shortly after Jim O'Brien was fired for violating NCAA rules.

"After I got this job, I was recruiting and Coach K stopped me and said, 'Hey, I really believe you've got one of the top jobs in the country,'" Matta said. "He said, 'I've looked at Ohio State the past 25 years and I think you can win there.'"

The Buckeyes did, reaching the 2007 national title game before losing to Florida and recording a 34-3 record last season while reaching the Sweet 16 for a second straight year.

Ohio State lost three seniors from that team but it hasn't showed. The Buckeyes are 6-0, though the only ranked team they have faced was then-No. 7 Florida on Nov. 15, a team they defeated, 81-74.

Meanwhile, Duke is coming off wins over No. 15 Michigan (82-65) and No. 14 Kansas (68-61) en route to the Maui Invitational title last week.

The Buckeyes have relied on 2011 national freshman of the year Jared Sullinger (18.8 points per game, 10.7 rebounds), William Buford (17.7 ppg) and Aaron Craft (9.2 ppg, 33 assists, 21 steals) while developing chemistry with a young team.

"You can't give (Sullinger) easy ones," Duke forward Mason Plumlee said.

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