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January 12, 2011 On Sunday, each of the top three teams were challenged, but each survived to remain undefeated. Duke stormed back late to down Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium while Ohio State had to exhale as Minnesota’s potential game-tying three-point-shot went awry. Kansas needed an extra five minutes to down Michigan in Ann Arbor, but nevertheless, all three remain unbeaten. But from Sunday’s close calls, we can conclude that none of the nation’s top three teams are invincible and we saw some weaknesses that were previously unexposed.

#1 Duke

Where Duke is Strong: Duke may have the most dynamic duo in the country in guard Nolan Smith and forward Kyle Singler. Although Smith struggled from the field against Maryland, the senior was still a stat-filler. Smith finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists while Singler finished with 25 points and 10 boards. Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins, both sons of former NBA players, have shown the ability to light it up from downtown and play off Duke’s stars very well. Smith’s ability to break down defenders creates shots for the Blue Devils’ other perimeter players and if there is one guy opposing defense won’t help off of, it is Singler.

Where Duke is Weak: Maryland’s Jordan Williams did more to expose Duke’s bigs than any opponent that Blue Devils had seen all season. Williams, a 6’10” wide-body, scored 23 points and ripped down 13 rebounds against Duke’s interior. While Williams put on a one-man-show against top-ranked Duke, the Blue Devils’ did little offensively to counter the sophomore. Ryan Kelly along with brothers Miles and Mason Plumlee combined for just six points while Mason Plumlee fouled out with no points and five turnovers. The Blue Devils struggled to pass the ball as well against the Terrapins. Nolan Smith recorded eight of Duke’s 10 assists while the Blue Devils committed 16 turnovers.

#2 Ohio State

Where Ohio State is Strong: Ohio State may be the most complete team in the country. Jared Sullinger has still not proven that he is human as the freshman recorded yet another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jon Diebler is as pure a shooter as they come when left alone from beyond the arc while David Lighty has a tendency to shine in big games. The Buckeyes rank in the top 20 in points-per-game and are in the top 10 in both assists and field goal percentage. Ohio State has plenty of guys who can score the basketball while point guards William Buford and Aaron Craft do a great job of getting Ohio State into its offense.

Where Ohio State is Weak: The Buckeyes do not lose much when they have to go to their bench, but the bench is not deep. Thad Matta usually goes with just a seven man rotation. On Sunday against a big Minnesota team, Ohio State struggled rebounding. When senior Dallas Lauderdale is out of the game, Sullinger is really Ohio State’s only consistent rebounder. Sullinger ripped down 12 boards on Saturday, but no other player had more than three. Ohio State also lacks a shot-blocker; Lauderdale gives the Buckeyes a bruiser in the paint who has no problem making opponents earn their points from the charity stripe, but Ohio State doesn’t have a big man that will consistently alter shots. Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe scored 18 points and recorded 12 rebounds with most of his damage coming with Lauderdale out of the game. Sullinger and Lauderdale are the only two players who see playing time for the Buckeyes that are not perimeter oriented.

#3 Kansas

Where Kansas is Strong: The Morris brothers (Marcus and Markieff) are double-doubles waiting to happen. The two combined for 35 points and 21 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ overtime-victory over Michigan on Sunday. Kansas has a solid trio of guards as well and all can light it up from beyond the arc. Kansas rarely has trouble scoring; the Jayhawks rank eighth in the country in scoring, are third in assists and lead the NCAA in field goal percentage. Kansas is also a very good offensive rebounding team.

Where Kansas is Weak: Kansas was perhaps exposed more than any of the top three teams on Saturday. While the Jayhawks’ starting five is very good, Kansas’ bench was non-existent in their narrow victory over the Wolverines. Kansas got just five points from its bench in a game that went an extra period. Although Kansas’ guards are very skilled offensively, Michigan’s backcourt had a solid offensive outing. Michigan’s starting guards outscores the Jayhawks’ backcourt 47-27 on Sunday and often got to the basket rather easily. Kansas appeared too quick to settle for the three-point-shot on Saturday as well.

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