Good morning all. Great night last night, right? The ACC is looking as weak as ever with only a few teams at the top to carry them. The B1G went 4-2 last night, taking the challenge record to 6-2 and meaning they only need to go 2-4 tonight to win the thing. Top that off with Michigan showing up B1G last night and taking it to the vaunted 2-3 Syracuse zone, and I'd say it was a good night. OSU dropped a tough game to Louisville where the pressure defense got to the young freshman, but Louisville also has one of the best inside game's in the country so this was going to be a tough matchup to begin with. Illinois dropped their first game of the season to Miami in what was a low scoring affair for Illinois this year, 70-61. Minnesota and Indiana won their matchups in convincing fashion while Purdue squeaked out a win against NC State.
Onto the previews! Some big games tonight with the B1G taking on three Top 15 opponents in Duke, Virginia, and UNC while Michigan State gets Notre Dame for the first time in 30+ years.
Virginia Tech at PSU || 7:15pm EST || ESPNU
Virginia Tech is bad people. You don't need me to tell you that, but they lost to Appalachian State (Hi Michigan!). DJ Newbill and company should be able to dispatch of VT without too much issue, and I'm hesitantly calling this one an almost sure win.
Aaron Yorke: Except that Penn State hasn't been able to dispatch anyone without some kind of issue. Cornell had a lead with four seconds left. Akron thrashed the Lions during the first half. Bucknell wouldn't go away even with the Lions putting on a stellar offensive performance.
Virginia Tech might be worse than some of those teams, but they have been shooting the three-pointer really well, and that's not something that the Lions have been very good at defending. I expect Penn State to win, but it will be close.
Michigan State at Notre Dame || 7:15pm EST || ESPN2
Iowa at UNC || 7:30pm EST || ESPN
Mike Jones take: Thank God it's basketball season. I need something new that's Iowa related to let me down hilariously.
Iowa travels to UNC to take on UNC after their disappointing let down last week. Luckily for Iowa, this game has the potential to play into their hands. Iowa forces almost 17 turnovers a game, and turnovers have been the achilles heal for UNC on the year. If Iowa can keep that pace up and capitalize on the turnover prone Carolina team, this could be the solid win they missed last week against Texas and Syracuse.
Georgia Tech at Northwestern || 9:15pm EST || ESPNU
The Yellow Jackets travel to Evanston to take on the Wildcats tonight in a battle of two teams trying to take the next step. The Yellow Jackets are solid on the offensive glass with former Terrapin player Charles Mitchell, who gets a lot of second chance points off of misses and will make you pay if you do not account for him. The Wildcats are looking to bounce back from the big loss at the end of the Cancun Challenge and show that the 5-0 start was not a fluke.
Good on the offensive glass, you say? Oh good. This can't end well, can it? Georgia Tech, by Kenpom's standards, is a better, slightly faster version of Northwestern in every metric. Most concerning for the 'Cats is their fundamental inability to shoot the ball. Seriously: they're 39.5% from the field, good for 292nd in the country. Yeah. That's bad.
Northern Iowa exposed Northwestern in Cancun, both in terms of talent and on the glass. GT's only loss comes to Marquette (wooo go Golden Iggles), 72-70, the Jackets are 29th in the country on the glass, ... and yet they've failed to really impress anyone. Narrow victories over Rhode Island, Rider, IPFW (go Mastodons), and Georgia, while more impressive than Northwestern's slate, don't give me much pause. If Mitchell and senior C Demarco Cox get going on the glass, though, the 'Cats are in trouble. I think Alex Olah breaks out of his funk at home, but Northwestern can't shoot to keep up. Give me Tech, 60-49, in a win for the ACC.
Virginia at Maryland || 9:15pm EST || ESPN2
Fuck Virginia. Fuck Justin Anderson for decommitting from Maryland and going to UVA when Gary left. Fuck your boring offensive play that makes everyone hate college basketball. Fuck your stupid pack line defense.
Virginia makes the 3 hour trip up to College Park to take on the young Terrapin team without it's senior forward Dez Wells. Maryland is led by freshman PG Melo Trimble, fresh off B1G Freshman of the week honors for his big performances last week. Look for Maryland to go big with freshman big man Michael Chekovsky getting big minutes in the middle while the sharpshooting freshmen on the outside keep Virginia honest.
Duke at Wisconsin || 9:30pm EST || ESPN
This is the game of the night as Duke makes a rare trip to an away stadium in the non-con to take on the Badgers. Wisconsin lacks the star power that Duke possesses, but can big man Frank Kaminsky contain Okafor? If he can, Duke will be forced to find other ways to focus their offense, which could do them in. Wisconsin will look to force them to go elsewhere early and often to see if they have an answer.
So how does the B1G do tonight? Do they go 4-2 again and beat the ACC down or do they barely squeak out the win in the challenge?