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A Chance to Set the Narrative: Big Ten-ACC Challenge Preview

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Who’s the best college basketball conference? With headliners like Duke-Indiana, Michigan-North Carolina, and Purdue-Florida State, the Big Ten has a chance to upend the ACC for that title.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten basketball...might be back?

The conference has wrapped up non-conference titles in New York City and Las Vegas, with wins over ranked programs including Oregon, UNC, and UCLA. Twelve of the conference’s fourteen teams are in the top 50 of Kenpom. The conference is the runaway leader of the Sagarin ratings as of today.

Coming off a down year in which only four teams received bids to the NCAA Tournament—though Michigan made it to the finals and Penn State won the NIT—the conference could desperately use a slate of ESPN chyrons asking “Is the Big Ten the best conference in college basketball?” and “Could the Big Ten get 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament?”

With a 20-game conference schedule already garnering headlines around the college basketball world, now’s a great time for the conference to build on the impression of high-level basketball. The Big Ten dispatched the Big East in the Gavitt Games, and now it has a chance—however small—to do the same with the ACC, long the gold standard of college basketball conferences, headlined by Duke and North Carolina.

Win the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and the Big Ten sets the college basketball narrative for 2018-19. It moves from a slate which might include wins over as many as four Top 25 teams right into a conference schedule specifically timed to take advantage of national attention.

Win this challenge, and the Big Ten is the class of the college basketball world.

Monday

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Clemson Tigers

UNL: 5-1, KP 31 | Clemson: 5-1, KP 24
6pm | ESPN2 | Clem -3.5 | O/U 136

BigRedTwice: This seems like a little too tall of a task for the Huskers--they’d need a hot night of shooting and a low-foul game to pull this off, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Still, here’s hoping it’s a decent game--and something they can build on. It’s fun to beat teams 106-37, but ultimately a game like this should be more valuable for them.

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Huskers
    (37 votes)
  • 62%
    Tigers
    (61 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Boston College Eagles

MN: 5-0, KP 45 | BC: 4-1, KP 71
8pm | ESPN2 | BC -1 | O/U 149

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Tonight’s game at BC should be pretty good.

We won the historic and prestigious inaugural Vancouver Showcase with some solid wins over TAMU and Washington, but they weren’t clean efficient wins by any stretch of the imagination.

We’re going to need Daniel Oturu to stay out of foul trouble, which should be interesting to see if he can accomplish. Gabe Kalscheur, he of the incredible game winner over the Huskies, has been incredible and I’ve found myself watching him all the time to see what he can do next.

I think we should be able to squeak out a win, one that will be ugly and grimy and not particularly pleasant on the eyes at times.

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Boston College
    (32 votes)
  • 72%
    Minnesota
    (86 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now

Tuesday

[13] Virginia Tech Hokies at Penn State Nittany Lions

VT: 5-0, KP 16 | PSU: 3-2, KP 38
6pm | ESPN2

Preivew coming!

Illinois Fighting Illini at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Ill: 2-4, KP 95 | ND: 5-1, KP 52
6pm | ESPNU

Thumpasaurus: We haven’t improved. We may be worse. What we allowed MVSU to do on offense was preposterous. Nebraska beat this same team 106-37. They are among the very worst teams ever to play in our building. Unacceptable to let their guards just fly in unabated for layup after layup. We will get eaten alive in Big Ten play.

[9] Michigan State Spartans at Louisville Cardinals

MSU: 5-1, KP 8 | UL: 3-2, KP 59
6:30pm | ESPN

Preview coming!

Pittsburgh Panthers at [14] Iowa Hawkeyes

Pitt: 6-0, KP 119 | Iowa: 5-0, KP 32
8pm | ESPNU

Stewmonkey13: Iowa gets what seems to be the easiest matchup of the Big Ten ACC Challenge. Pitt was the worst power conference team last year, and while Iowa certainly wasn’t good, seems much improved so far this season. Pitt is 6-0, but with no real inspiring wins, and a new head coach, Jeff Capel, more known for his recruiting than his Xs and Os acumen.

Iowa should be able to take play an inside/outside game with Luka Garza and Tyler Cook drawing attention inside allowing open looks from 3. Look for Iowa to keep up the defensive intensity they’ve shown so far this year, and they should be able to win this one fairly comfortably.

North Carolina State Wolfpack at [22] wisconsin badgers

NCSt: 6-0, KP 35 | wisc: 5-1, KP 12
8pm | ESPN2

beezer07: Wisconsin plays its 4th P5 team in 6 games, and as with the other 3, I’m very interested to see how Wisconsin fares against A School I’ve Heard Of Before. Wisconsin played great in the dumb Atlantis tournament but succumbed to pretty tremendous defense by UVA. So far, Wisconsin seems to have struggled with really tough defenses that force Wisconsin’s guards well away from the basket. No idea of NC State plays that way, but let’s hope they don’t!

Also, Ethan Happ is currently 5/5 on double-doubles this season, so keep your eyes peeled for the streak to continue!

Indiana Hoosiers at [3] Duke Blue Devils

IU: 5-1, KP 22 | Duke: 5-1, KP 1
8:30pm | ESPN

Candystripes for Breakfast: Indiana is very talented, but has more than a few people who would be a part of the normal rotation injured, so they’ve been playing shorthanded for a couple of weeks now. Add to that that IU is on the road, and this has all the makings of a game that may not be that close at the end.

Then again, this matchup seems more for the ratings than competitive balance, so at least someone’s going to get what they want from this.

Wednesday

Syracuse Orange at [16] Ohio State Buckeyes

SU: 3-2, KP 20 | OSU: 6-0, KP 26
6:15pm | ESPN2

James Snyder: Ohio State is quietly 6-0 this season, with the Cincinnati win looking better and better.

Syracuse will be a huge test for the Buckeyes, because of that pesky zone defense. Ohio State’s offense has yet to gel this season, but the Buckeyes have been fantastic on defense, holding every team to 63 or less.

If Ohio State figures out the zone defense early, they could easily move to 7-0. If they don’t, expect a low scoring game that could potentially not reach 120 combined points. I am also going to be watching the attendance for this game...

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Miami-Florida Hurricanes

RU: 4-1, KP 114 | Mia: 5-1, KP 23
6:15pm | ESPNU

Preview...coming?

[4] Virginia Cavaliers at [24] Maryland Terrapins

UVA: 6-0, KP 3 | MD: 6-0, KP 33
6:30pm | ESPN

DJ Carver: Maryland gets to play the ugliest form of basketball known to man on the challenge this year when they face Virginia.

Maryland will need another hot shooting performance from three from their freshman guards to pull Virginia off of their pack line defense if they want to win this game. Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith can win this game inside but the bigger question is can Maryland get them the basketball? If they can’t, they’re going to need to rely on hot shooting or their bigs cleaning up on the boards to have a shot at winning.

I’m very intrigued to watch Maryland’s improved defense against actual competition as Maryland has only played one Top 100 Kenpom team so far this season and they looked more like rutger than anything.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Northwestern Wildcats

GT: 4-1, KP 77 | NU: 5-1, KP 46
8:15pm | ESPNU

Preview coming!

[19] Purdue Boilermakers at [15] Florida State Seminoles

Pur: 5-1, KP 13 | FSU: 5-1, KP 14
8:15pm | ESPN2

Boilerman31: Purdue gets its first true road test of the season heading to Tallahassee. This should be another chance to see how Carsen Edwards are advancing.

Florida State isn’t lacking in the size department. Their length will give Purdue issues. It will be crucial for Matt Haarms to stay out of foul trouble and for Ryan Cline to get quality looks.

If this goes well, Purdue will be in good position for a win. If not, Purdue will be in for a long night.

[11] North Carolina Tar Heels at [7] Michigan Wolverines

UNC: 6-1, KP 4 | MI: 6-0, KP 7
8:30pm | ESPN

Preview coming!


We’ll have a new open thread for you each day. In the meantime, vote in the polls and let us know your thoughts in the comments! Here’s your place to talk Big Ten basketball and the ACC-Big Ten Challenge!

Poll

Who wins the ACC-Big Ten Challenge?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    ACC, 10-4 or better
    (13 votes)
  • 6%
    ACC, 9-5
    (21 votes)
  • 14%
    ACC, 8-6
    (45 votes)
  • 18%
    Tie, 7-7
    (56 votes)
  • 37%
    Big Ten, 8-6
    (113 votes)
  • 10%
    Big Ten, 9-5
    (33 votes)
  • 7%
    Big Ten, 10-4 or better
    (22 votes)
303 votes total Vote Now