From Purdue and Miami to Duke and Illinois, we preview and predict each ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup.
Purdue vs Miami (12/8, 5 p.m., ESPN2)
Why Purdue?: The Boilermakers can really hit from deep and (SURPRISE!), may have found its next 7-footer in freshman Zach Edey. Trevion Williams is also a double-double machine and the inside-outside balance on this Purdue team is something to take note of.
Why Miami?: Is Chris Lykes really still there? Well, yes he is, and he may have his best backcourt in his time at the U if Isaiah Wong keeps up his play. It’s not Jim Larranaga’s best team, but Lykes has the type of senior presence that can take over games.
Prediction: Miami 73, Purdue 67
Boston College vs Minnesota (12/8, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
Why Boston College?: Don’t judge the Eagles by their 1-3 record. They’ve lost by single digits to Villanova and St. John’s and a double-digit loss to a really good Florida Gators team. The lone win came against A-10 powerhouse Rhode Island. Wynston Tabbs leads a guard-heavy team that can score with just about any team.
Why Minnesota?: In a loaded Big Ten conference, the Gophers find themselves near the bottom. But they’re 4-0 and have quite possibly the best scoring guard in the entire conference in Marcus Carr. BC is prone to giving up points, so it could be a big game for Carr.
Prediction: Minnesota 81, Boston College 73
16. North Carolina vs 3. Iowa (12/8, 7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Why North Carolina?: In one of the best games of this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge, UNC might be without its best player in Garrison Brooks. But with Roy Williams at the helm, be sure to see a revamped gameplan in case he doesn’t suit up. Will Caleb Love break out?
Why Iowa?: Iowa plays smart, has shooters, and the best player in college hoops in Luka Garza. The All-American has been nothing short of unstoppable and will face a Tar Heels team that doesn’t seem to have the same quality of big men as in past seasons.
Prediction: Iowa 84, North Carolina 70
22. Ohio State vs Notre Dame (12/8, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Why Ohio State?: The Buckeyes are an underrated team in the Big Ten given they aren’t at the top of the top, but they are ranked and really, really good. This is their first game against a quality opponent, but so far they look solid. Keep an eye on how C.J. Walker runs the point. – the fifth-year senior can really be counted on to make plays.
Notre Dame?: The Irish only lost to Michigan State by ten points, so maybe it’ll be a turnaround year in South Bend. For a team that’s dealt with injuries over the past few years, they look as healthy as can be. Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin highlight one of the best backcourts in the ACC.
Prediction: Ohio State 74, Notre Dame 71
Penn State vs 16. Virginia Tech (12/8, 9 p.m., ESPNU)
Why Penn State?: Plain and simple, the Nittany Lions can SCORE. Myles Dread figured to be the leading scorer on this team or right up near the top after multiple big-time scorers from last season departed. Through three games, he’s fifth on the team. If that doesn’t explain how many options this team has, I don’t know what will.
Why Virginia Tech?: The Hokies have one of the best defenses in this entire ACC/Big Ten Challenge, so maybe they can slow down Penn State. At 4-0, they haven’t allowed any opponents to score more than 73 points, and that number was what Villanova put up against VTech. Can the Hokies slow down another offense?
Prediction: Penn State 78, Virginia Tech 74
6. Illinois vs 10. Duke (12/8, 9:30 p.m., ESPN)
Why Illinois?: There’s not much debate – Illinois has one of, if not the best one-two punch in all of college basketball in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. They’ve blown opponents out and fought hard in their lone loss against a talented and experienced Baylor team. Can the Illini take advantage of Duke’s young squad?
Why Duke?: An identity seems to be missing, but you can’t judge from one bad game against an opponent like Michigan State. The Blue Devils have some great forwards but will need more out of their guards to beat Illinois.
Prediction: Illinois 83, Duke 76
Syracuse vs 21. Rutgers (12/8, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Why Syracuse?: The Orange are without Buddy Boeheim and lost Bourama Sidibe for an extended period of time. But they’ve found scoring elsewhere – something they haven’t had in previous years. Rutgers will be the first real test for SU.
Why Rutgers?: Geo Baker will also probably miss this game, but Ron Harper has been giving it is all. If he can hit shots to extend the Syracuse 2-3 zone it could be a problem for an already weaker Orange defense than usual.
Prediction: Syracuse 75, Rutgers 68
Maryland vs Clemson (12/9, 5 p.m., ESPN2)
Why Maryland?: Despite losing Bruno Fernando and Ant Cowan, the Terps are 4-0 and have received a nice boost from sophomore Hakim Hart. This is as even a matchup as there is, but Maryland is playing a lot better than most projected.
Why Clemson?: The Tigers are a sleeper team in the ACC. They play both sides of the ball and have tremendous depth. Brad Brownell‘s team has already beat Mississippi State and Purdue, so Maryland would just add to a nice list of quality wins.
Prediction: Clemson 68, Maryland 66
Indiana vs 20. Florida State (12/9, 7:15 p.m., ESPN)
Why Indiana?: The Hoosiers are the toughest team in the entire ACC/Big Ten Challenge to figure out. They lost to 22 to Texas, but also have double-digit wins against Providence and Stanford. One clear positive? Trayce Jackson-Davis. The sophomore forward is averaging 21.5 points and 7.0 rebounds through four games.
Why Florida State?: They’ve only played one game so far, but you can expect defense and moving the ball inside from Leonard Hamilton. M.J. Walker is a great guard and sophomore Balsa Koprivica looked much improved in that first game against North Florida.
Prediction: Florida State 64, Indiana 63
Georgia Tech vs Nebraska (12/9, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2)
Why Georgia Tech?: Why else? The Yellow Jackets are coming off a win over Kentucky. While the Wildcats seem iffy so far, it shows that Josh Pastner‘s team can be competitive with other power-conference opponents.
Why Nebraska?: They might not be the flashiest team, but the Corn Huskers have four guards all averaging double-digits in points per game. Teddy Allen leads the bunch with 19.0 ppg along with 5.8 rebounds. In fact, all of the guards on Nebraska can rebound well.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 70, Nebraska 65
4. Michigan State vs 18. Virginia (12/9, 9:15 p.m, ESPN)
Why Michigan State?: This is my favorite match up in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge because it pits the Hauser brothers against each other. Sparty lost Cassius Winston to graduation, but Joey Hauser is there and brings a lot of shooting to a team that can really stroke it.
Why Virginia?: Preaching defense is key against this Michigan State team and there is no drop-off with how good the Cavs can play on that side of the ball. If they can put up 70 points, it will be a win for Virginia. If they can’t, games like this may make the season a long one.
Prediction: Virginia 71, Michigan State 69
Pittsburgh vs Northwestern (12/9, 9:15 p.m., ESPN2)
Why Pittsburgh?: Pitt has had a rough start to the season, but one positive is the trio of scorers all averaging well over 15 points per game. But it’s the rest of the team that the Panthers need to step it up and help earn a big win.
Why Northwestern?: Other than one of the best names in college basketball in Boo Buie, the Wildcats are sneaky good. Through two games they have five players putting up at least 10 points per game, and two more right behind with at least eight per contest. Pitt’s defense has looked shaky against mid-majors, so Northwestern could really capitalize.
Prediction: Northwestern 80, Pittsburgh 65