Can Buckeyes get Thomas help?

OSU's success will be tied to assisting Deshaun on O, and locking down on D

Updated: November 28, 2012, 1:33 PM ET
By John Gasaway | Basketball Prospectus
Deshaun ThomasJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesDeshaun Thomas is shooting 54 percent from the field so far this season.

Entering this season, the Big Ten was widely thought to be the nation's premier conference, and thus far nothing I've seen has led me to revise that assumption. Whether the evidence of choice is Indiana's total annihilation of North Carolina Tuesday night in Bloomington, or Michigan's somewhat more civilized but nevertheless still convincing win over North Carolina State in Ann Arbor, the Big Ten has more than lived up to its advance hype.

Among the conference's elite teams this season, however, there is one group that stands out as something of an enigma: the Ohio State Buckeyes. There they sit, ranked No. 4 in the nation, in close and elevated proximity to the Hoosiers and the Wolverines. But what do we really know about Thad Matta's latest team?

Ohio State's "best" win to date was their 77-66 victory over Washington at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, Conn. Posting a double-digit win over a major-conference foe on a neutral floor is all well and good, of course, but is this team really prepared to compete for a title in the nation's best conference?

We're about to find out. Nothing like a game against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium to diffuse a little analytical uncertainty. Here's what I'll be watching for with Matta's team, not only Wednesday evening but also in the weeks to come.