Maryland at Ohio State
Vitals: Value City Arena, 7:00pm EST, ESPN,
School Facts: The University of Maryland is ranked #62 by US News and 73rd by Forbes while Ohio State is ranked #52 by US News and 138th by Forbes. The most popular major at Maryland is criminology but economics, accounting, communications, and psychology are all popular as well. Psychology is the most popular undergraduate major which makes considering that all those Buckeyes are nuts (I'm done, I promise). The Princeton Review ranks Maryland in the top 20 in having lots of race/class interaction, lots of hard liquor, and is ranked #12 in the most politically active students. Ohio State is only ranked in the top 20 in best athletic facilities at #17.
What if this were a football game?: We will find out next year, but it's probably safe to say the Buckeyes would obliterate the Terps in the oblong ball game.
So what about the basketball game?: According to Ken Pomeroy Ohio State has the top tempo adjusted defense in the nation right now. It is still a bit early in the season to lean on those numbers but based on what I have seen I think that is a fairly accurate estimation of the Buckeyes' skills. Maryland is playing Dez Wells at PG despite the fact that he should be playing the wing. I think Ohio State's defense turns over the Maryland offense several times en route to a comfortable win. Final: Ohio State 65 Maryland 57
Wisconsin at Virginia
Vitals: John Paul Jones Arena, 7:00pm EST, ESPN2,
School Facts: Virginia is ranked #23 by US News and 29th by Forbes while Wisconsin is ranked #41 by US News and 68th by Forbes. The most popular majors at Wisconsin are political science, economics, and biology while Virginia's most popular undergraduate programs are economics and psychology. The University of Virginia is ranked #3 by the Princeton Review for best financial aid and the service also considers Virginia the top value school in the nation. The Princeton Review ranks Wisconsin as the #7 top value, and in the top five in LGBT friendly and best campus newspapers. Of course I cannot fail to mention that Wisconsin is the Princeton Review's #8 party school.
What if this were a football game?: Mike London has won exactly two football games this season (an upset of BYU and a victory over VMI) so suffice it to say that this would probably be an easy win for the Badgers.
So what about the basketball game?: Last year the Hoos came into the Kohl center and shocked a Wisconsin team that spent the entire non conference portion of its slate trying to figure out how to succeed without injured PG Josh Gasseer. The Badgers eventually fond their groove, and with Gasser back this season and a bevvy of experienced back court players this Wisconsin team has been tearing through everybody including some solid wins over the likes of St. John's, Florida, and Saint Louis. Virginia plays the same methodical pace Wisconsin does but I get the feeling that the Badgers are just playing on higher level right now. Virginia's only good win so far this season was over SMU (I am not counting a 2-5 Davidson team as a good win) and Wisconsin is head and shoulders anyone UVA has played so far this season. Final: Wisconsin 66 Virginia 63
Northwestern at North Carolina State
Vitals: Petersen Events Center, 7:30pm EST, ESPNU,
School Facts: US News ranks Northwestern at #12 in its list of National Universities while Forbes places the Cats at 17 on their list. North Carolina State comes in at 101 and 160 respectively in those rankings. Economics, journalism, and psychology are the most popular majors at NW while engineering, business, and biology are by far and away the most popular majors at NC State. North Carolina State comes in at #6 in the Princeton Reviews rankings of the top value colleges while Northwestern comes in at #4 in best college theater.
What if this were a football game?: People would still probably not watch it. North Carolina State is in the midst of the rebuilding process after bringing in former Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren and the Wildcats, well, they hosted college gameday in their Big Ten opener and then didn't win a game until this past Saturday. For as bad as Northwestern was this season I still think that they could go on the road and beat a 3-9 Wolfpack squad that barely defeated FCS team Richmond.
So what about the basketball game?: This might not be quite as big of a mismatch as it appears on first blush. North Carolina State is 4-2 with an overtime loss to North Carolina Central on the season. Northwestern is 4-4 but realy the only bad loss there is to Illinois State. Still, statistically Northwestern is pretty bad at just about everything right now and it is sounding like Drew Crawford may be banged up for this one. If the game were in Evanston I think Northwestern could make it close given Chris Collin's coaching history in the ACC but since it is in Raleigh I really don't see how this isn't a bad loss. Final: North Carolina State 78 Northwestern 57
North Carolina at Michigan State
Vitals: Breslin Center, 9:00pm EST, ESPN,
School Facts: North Carolina ranks 38th in Forbes and #30 in US News while Michigan State ranks154 and #73 respectively in those rankings. Communications and Media Studies is the most popular major at North Carolina while at MSU it is Business/Management. UNC ranks #2 in the Princeton Reviews rankings of top value colleges and in the top five in both their top college newspapers and students pack the stadiums categories. Meanwhile, the Princeton Review Ranks Michigan State in none of its specialized categories. Instead, I will tell a story. I have never been to East Lansing for a sporting event but several friends have and all have been shocked at how few places there are to drink there. A few have even told me that the Buffalo Wild Wings near campus is the preferred hangout some nights and that it actually charges a regular cover. Since finding this out my friends and I now routinely ask our servers at Buffalo Wild Wings locations we visit whether or not they charge cover. So far I have yet to find another college town so desperate for bars that their BWWs charges cover (I can confirm that Bowling Green, KY, College Station, South Bend, Iowa City, and Lawrence locations do not charge cover on a regular basis though the Lawrence one will charge during the Final Four).
What if this were a football game? North Carolina's offense has been better over the second half of the season but I really don't think they are good enough to pose a threat to the Spartan defense.
So what about the basketball game? North Carolina was billed as a possible ACC title contender in the preseason but has since lost to Belmont and UAB at home. The Louisville win is impressive for the Tar Heels but so is Michigan State's victory over Kentucky. Michigan State has lost games to good UNC teams in the B1G/ACC Challenge in the past but I don't think this team is really talented to tackle a deep and talented Spartan team in East Lansing.
Final: Michigan State 87 North Carolina 79
Boston College at Purdue
Vitals: Mackey Arena, 9:00pm EST, ESPN2,
School Facts: US News ranks Boston College as #31 while Forbes slots them at 35th. Purdue can be found at #68 and 106th in those rankings respectively. Communications is the most popular major at BC while Purdue's most popular undergraduate major is obviously engineering. The Princeton Review ranks Purdue in the top 20 of its best college newspapers while Boston College comes in the top 20 in both little race/class interaction and lots of beer.
What if this were a football game?: Yeah, Boston College and one of the greatest running backs in the game right now would easily destroy Purdue.
So what about the basketball game?: This is a match up of two teams who have dissapointed this season. Purdue was supposed to at least be in contention for an NCAA berth this year, but so far they have been blown out by Oklahoma State, lost to Washington State, and have played much too close for comfort against Northern Kentucky, Rider, and Siena twice. Meanwhile Boston College came in to the season as a dark horse to finish the season in the upper half of the ACC and possibly make their own run to the NCAA tournament. Instead the Eagles have limped to a 3-4 start with losses to Providence, UMass, Toledo, and UConn. No, not all of these teams' losses have been bad but there have certainly been some head scratching games in here. BC is 344th in the nation in rebounding and that, plus the fact that this game is in West Lafayette, makes me think AJ Hammons and the Boilers will be victorious. Final: Purdue 74 Boston College 69
Miami at Nebraska
Vitals: Pinnacle Bank Arena, 9:30pm EST, ESPNU,
School Facts: Miami is ranked #47 by US News and 124th by Forbes while Nebraska is ranked #101 and 247th respectively by those services. Business and engineering are the two most popular majors in Lincoln while business and biological and biomedical sciences are tops in Coral Gables. The Princeton Review ranks Miami #3 in lots of race/class interaction while Nebraska is ranked in the top 20 in jock schools, everyone plays intramural sports, and least political.
What if this were a football game? It would be a hell of a lot more interesting that's for sure. Miami and Nebraska haven't played since the 2001 Rose Bowl/National Title game which was won by the Canes. The loss of Duke Johnson makes me hesitant to pick the Canes since they haven't done anything since their loss to Florida State in Tallahassee. Still, Nebraska is too banged up and I don't see the Huskers third string quarterback leading them to victory over a talented Miami team.
So what about the basketball game?:This is the hardest game of the series for me to pick. On one side, I like Tim Miles and what he is doing at Nebraska (and not in an "I'm a Hawkeye fan and want to see Nebraska fail miserably in every sport" way). This Nebraska team is not as bad as some of the preseason prognostications predicted and Miami already has three losses on the season including to St. Francis of New York and George Washington. On the other hand, I am pretty impressed by Miami's neutral site victory over a pretty good Arizona State team and I feel like this Miami team may finally be putting it together. At the end of the day, Miami is last in the ACC in offensive efficiency and, even though my heart says the Canes are ready to take a leap, I don't trust this Miami team to find an offensive identity on the road against Nebraska.
Final: Nebraska 71 Miami 65
This would mean the B1G would win the challenge with a 7-5 record.