CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Joanne P. McCallie hopes her Duke women's basketball team can play 40 minutes of great defense tonight against an Ohio State team that has one superstar center and four more players who are very tough to guard.She's also hoping for a big crowd.
The No. 11 Blue Devils (5-1) will host the No. 3 Buckeyes (8-0) in their part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in women's basketball, which will have both of the other Triangle teams in action tonight as well.
Meanwhile, No. 4 UNC (5-0) will have what is clearly its toughest test of the season so far when the Tar Heels travel to No. 22 Michigan State (4-2). The Tar Heels will be without preseason All-ACC forward Jessica Breland, who is recovering from Hodgkin's lymphoma and told The Associated Press on Wednesday she doubts she will play this season.
"If I go out there 85 percent, that's not giving to my team and my coaches," Breland told the AP. "I wouldn't want that from anybody."
The ACC went 2-1 in the Challenge on Wednesday night, with all three road teams winning - Boston College over Iowa, Georgia Tech beating Penn State and Illinois taking out Wake Forest.
Tonight's other games will have Michigan at Virginia Tech, Purdue at Virginia, Minnesota at Maryland, Clemson at Northwestern and Florida State at Indiana.
At Duke, Coach McCallie hosted her first media luncheon of the season at Cameron, and is hoping the team's success can bring a few extra fans into the building tonight.
"Tell all your friends," McCallie said. "Put it on Twitter and Facebook. We're trying to get 6,000. ... I think (Big Ten/ACC) is exciting. I think it's great. We want to represent and do a great job, absolutely."
If the students come out in droves that should happen, as there was a pre-sale of 4,300 by early Wednesday afternoon.
Ohio State has won its eight games - all at home - by an average of 27.4 points. The nail-biter was Sunday's 83-71 win over California.
Jantel Lavender, a 6-4 junior center, is averaging 24.3 points and 9.4 rebounds for OSU, which has four players in double figures. Point guard Samantha Prahalis is averaging a double-double of 14.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.
"Lavender is interesting in that she doesn't really play like a post player," McCallie said. "She just turns and shoots it. Catch, turn, shoot. Catch, turn, shoot. ... Almost like a guard shooter in a post body. She just turns and flips it in there. She definitely presents her own set of problems that not only will Krystal (Thomas) have to deal with, but Allison (Vernerey) and the team as a whole.
"(And) they set more on-ball screens than any team I've ever seen. So the big key is angling and cutting off (Prahalis) before she gets to the paint so she can't turn any corners. How we handle the on-ball screens and how we keep her in front is a key, because then she can't make one of those no-looks."
Junior guard Jasmine Thomas is leading a very balanced Duke team with 14.2 points and six assists per outing.
"We've been approaching it like any other game, going over sets that they run and things that they like to do in their offense as well as in their defense," Jasmine Thomas said. "What we've been preparing for is a battle.
"It's going to be a tough game. They're going to be physical, we're going to be physical, and both teams have that inside-outside presence. We're trying to just focus on doing the best we can to limit their success. Rebounding is going to be a big part of this game. We're going to have to control the boards."
No. 11 Duke vs. No. 3 Ohio State
[Tonight, 7 p.m., Cameron Indoor Stadium]
Records: OSU 8-0, Duke 5-1.
Audio: WDNC-AM 620, GoDuke.com, wosu.org.
Coaches' records - OSU: Jim Foster 693-272, 93-23 at OSU; Duke: Joanne P. McCallie 373-165, 57-17 at Duke.
Leading scorers - OSU: Jantel Lavender 24.3; Duke: Jasmine Thomas 14.2.
Leading rebounders - OSU: Jantel Lavender 9.4; Duke: Joy Cheek 7.7.
Assist leaders - OSU: Samantha Prahalis 10.0; Duke: Jasmine Thomas 6.0.
N.C. State vs. Wisconsin
[Tonight, 7 p.m., Reynolds Coliseum]
Wisconsin leads series 1-0
Records: UW 6-1, NCSU 5-2.
Audio: WKNC-88.1 FM, GoPack.com.
Coaches' records - UW: Lisa Stone 471-212, 97-93 at UW; NCSU: Kellie Harper 102-67, 5-2 at NCSU.
Leading scorers - UW: Alyssa Karel 14.0; NCSU: Marissa Kastanek 11.7.
Leading rebounders - UW: Tara Steinbauer 5.9; NCSU: Bonae Holston and Lucy Ellison 7.3.
Assist leaders - UW: Teah Gant 2.4; NCSU: Amber White 2.7.
No. 4 UNC at No. 22 Michigan State
[Tonight, 8:30 p.m., Breslin Center, East Lansing]
UNC leads series 3-0
Records: MSU 4-2, UNC 5-0.
Audio: WCHL-AM 1360; TarHeelBlue.com, MSUSpartans.com.
Video: Big Ten Network.
Coaches' records - UNC: Sylvia Hatchell: 822-282, 545-202 at UNC; MSU: Suzy Merchant 150-147, 49-27 at MSU.
Leading scorers - UNC: Cetera DeGraffenreid 15.0; MSU: Allyssa DeHaan 12.7.
Leading rebounders - UNC: Laura Broomfield 10.5; MSU: Lykendra Johnson 8.0.
Assist leaders - UNC: Cetera DeGraffenreid 5.2; MSU: Brittney Thomas 3.2.