ACC and B1G to Face Off in 19th Annual Challenge
Starting Monday, the ACC and B1G will go head to head for the 19th straight year in the annual ACC vs. Big 10 challenge. This series of games is unlike any other, and this year should be no different.
Starting in 1999 with just 9 teams, the ACC vs. B1G challenge has consistently grown to become one of if not the biggest out of conference showcases every year. Going into the 2019 season, the ACC holds the advantage in the series, going 12-5-2 with a total record of 120-91.
Overall, the challenge is always up for grabs. Since 2012, the series has been split, 2-2 with 2 ties, and since the challenge began, 12 of the 19 years have been won by 2 or less games.
No matter the outcome, the tradition brings great competition to the floor, as every team gets a chance to face a fellow powerhouse. Teams get to strengthen their resumes, sharpen their skills, and play at a very high level in which teams from other conferences simply miss out on.
Although going into the season many expected the ACC to run away with the series similarly to last year, the Big 10 has proven they have many solid teams who can hang with the best of the best. This years series can quite possibly be one of the most exciting in years.
Nebraska vs. Clemson
Two teams who have been bouncing in and out of the AP Top 25, both squads can be electric this year. Nebraska being led by James Palmer and Clemson by Marcquise Reed, both teams can score when needed. This will be the best opponent either team will have played this season, and it will be a close game, but home court advantage is always a key aspect in a game.
Minnesota vs. Boston College
This has a possibility to go down to the wire. BC is coming off a dominant win over last years Cinderella, Loyola-Chicago. However, BC faltered to IUPUI earlier in the season at home. Minnesota is not as talented as the Eagles, but wins over three power 5 schools is very convincing for the Golden Gophers.
Illinois vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame and Illinois have had very different schedules coming into this matchup. The Fighting Illini have faced four big programs, falling in each of those matchups. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has yet to play a power 5, and their lone loss is to Radford. Both teams will have severe ups and downs this season, but the Fighting Irish have yet to allow more than 70 points in a contest and share the wealth offensively.
Prediction: Notre Dame
Virginia Tech vs. Penn State
The Hokies are hoping to boast their resume for one of their most promising basketball campaigns in a long time. Buzz Williams has a small but scrappy team, already defeating a solid Purdue roster. Penn State has struggled as of late, dropping two of their last three to mid majors. That being said, home court advantage and Lamar Stevens is too much for an undersized Virginia Tech team to overcome.
Prediction: Penn State
Michigan State vs. Louisville
After a heartbreaking loss to Kansas in the season opener, the Spartans have bounced back, winning five straight including wins over Texas and UCLA. The Spartans are predicted to sit atop the Big 10 this season and should have no problem beating a Louisville team who has yet to defeat a power 5 team. The Cardinals will hang tight, however, as in both their losses, the game was within 5 at halftime.
Prediction: Michigan State
Pittsburgh vs. Iowa
Despite Pitts perfect record, their scheduling has been everything but difficult. The Panthers have yet to face a 2018 tournament team, and their one decent looking win game against St. Louis by 2 on a neutral floor. As for Iowa, they handled UConn and Oregon with ease at MSG, and the Hawkeyes have some serious talent.
NC State vs. Wisconsin
NC State will play its first true when it travels to Wisconsin with a 6-0 record. Wisconsin holds one loss, but still has enough experience and talent to be ranked in the AP Top 25. The Badgers have beaten Xavier and Oklahoma, while the Wolfpack’s most impressive win comes over Maine. Ethan Happ will be the difference maker.
Indiana vs. Duke
The marquee matchup of Tuesday, as freshman stud Romeo Langford faces off with the three headed beast of Duke. Duke is just too talented to lose two games in a row after nearly coming back against Gonzaga. With their first loss in the back of their minds and the Cameron Crazies in the building, Duke should not be upset by Indiana.
Virginia vs. Maryland
Maryland has been surprisingly solid this year, and that’s credited to their front court. The Terps are equipped with forwards with crazy athleticism and long arms. The problem for Maryland is their trouble shooting from beyond the arc, and Virginia gives no easy shots in the paint. In a renewed rivalry game, defense will be the difference maker, and DeAndre Hunter provides a matchup nightmare that will give Maryland big men fits defensively.
Syracuse vs. Ohio State
Coming off a rough week at MSG, Syracuse will look to bounce back against the red hot Buckeyes. Ohio State boasts the NCAA best NET, but only has one good win over Cincinnati. Although Ohio State is the favorite, Syracuse is too talented and Jim Boeheim always finds ways to win big games for the Orange.
Rutgers vs. Miami
Rutgers is very underrated defensively. They posted an NCAAM record for least amount of points allowed in a half (4) against Eastern Michigan. However, since a 95 point effort vs. Drexel, the Scarlet Knights have not scored over 70 in a contest. Miami’s Chris Lykes is a phenomenal play maker and should be able to break down Rutgers defense without any issue.
Georgia Tech vs. Northwestern
A lower tier matchup in the series, Georgia Tech will travel to Chicago to face off against a solid Northwestern team. Led by forwards Vic Law and Derek Pardon, the Wildcats have an above average front court. For the Yellow Jackets, they score by attacking the rim, and Northwestern makes that hard to come by. On top of that, GT shoots very poorly from range.
Purdue vs. Florida State
Florida State holds an interesting resume, beating LSU and Florida prior to this matchup. However, the Noles fell to struggling Villanova in their last contest, only scoring 60 points. Carsen Edwards leads Purdue with just over 25 points per game. The problem for Purdue is FSU’s length, something every team in March seems to have a problem with, hence why Florida State is so successful in the big dance.
Prediction: Florida State
North Carolina vs. Michigan
The best matchup in the series comes on Wednesday at 9:30. Michigan has began its season hot, beating Villanova and Providence early on. Although UNC just fell to Texas, they bounced back by handling UCLA by double digits. Although the Wolverines are fundamentally sound, the Tar Heels are led by two freshmen who cause issues for any defense they go up against.
Final Score: 8-6 ACC