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Big Ten-ACC Challenge Previews, Open Thread: Is the Big Ten actually good at basketball at all?

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Continuing with Louisville-Michigan State, Michigan-North Carolina, and Virginia Tech-Maryland tonight, the conference gets a shot a redemption and can close out a victory over the ACC.

NCAA Basketball: St. Francis-NY at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it was a mixed bag over the weekend.

But the Big Ten gets another chance to...prove itself?...as all fourteen of the conference’s men’s hardcourt squads take the court the next three days for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. (The women’s Challenge starts on Wednesday—stay tuned!)

We’ve got your previews, takes on the conference’s basketball reputation, and picks for the challenge ahead. Scroll on!

Game Previews

Monday, November 29

Iowa Hawkeyes at Virginia Cavaliers

6pm | ESPN2 | Iowa -1.5 | O/U 133

misdreavus79: Didn’t this happen like two seasons ago? Really?!

Stew: The last time Iowa played Virginia was in 2016 in the Emerald Classic preseason tourney. That was when Virginia was quite a bit better (ranked #7 at the time). This game should be quite a bit more even, if still an incredible contrast in styles. Iowa comes in with the KenPom #6 overall offense in the country and sporting a top 25 tempo.

Meanwhile you’ve got Virginia, representing everything that is wrong with the college game, as far and away the slowest team in the country, relying on their defense (#25) to smother opponents. This isn’t quite the same Virginia team, though, as they’ve already got losses to Navy (!) and were blown out by Houston.

This is far and away the toughest opponent Iowa has faced thus far, and I’ll be interested in how they respond. Like most extreme contrast in styles, the winning team will likely be the one to force their style.

Poll

Gross.

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Fast, bad basketball
    (59 votes)
  • 45%
    Slow, bad basketball
    (49 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Illinois Fighting Illini

8pm | ESPN2 | Illinois -6.5 | O/U 142

HWAHSQB: The internet is quiet about the status of the three starters who missed Friday’s game, but at least Krush will be back in attendance.

For you bettors out there, Underwood teams are a bad bet until mid-January and if Frazier is out, the Over looks pretty likely as out defense looked very different without one of the best on-ball defenders in the country. I know y’all will be rooting for us at least this one time, but I think it will be a disappointing result for B1G fans.

Poll

Good God, this is disgusting.

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    irish
    (35 votes)
  • 60%
    illini
    (53 votes)
88 votes total Vote Now

Tuesday, November 30

Indiana Hoosiers at Syracuse Orange

6pm | ESPN2

Buffkomodo: This matchup will give some Hoosier fans flashbacks to the 2013 sweet 16. Fortunately, this is not that Syracuse team. ‘Cuse comes into this game having lost to Colgate, VCU, and Auburn on the year. Indiana remains undefeated.

The thing that gives me heartburn on this matchup is that it’s on the road. It really will be a good test for Mike Woodson’s team. Can Indiana compete on the road? We shall see.

I don’t expect to learn a lot from this mostly because Syracuse seems to be very, very bad. I don’t expect anyone in the national media to take much from this either unless Indiana loses. If IU can take care of the ball and penetrate the zone, they’ll do just fine.

Poll

Ick.

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Candystripes
    (90 votes)
  • 36%
    A big orange
    (52 votes)
142 votes total Vote Now

Minnesota Gophers at Pittsburgh Panthers

6pm | ESPNU

WSR: Hey, did you know that Minnesota is undefeated and Pitt’s lost a pair of buy games? Pretty awesome stuff.

I’m starting believe that we could win, which will inevitably lead to disappointment.

Poll

ew

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    minn
    (116 votes)
  • 25%
    pitt
    (40 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now

Florida State Seminoles at Purdue Boilermakers

6:30pm | ESPN

BoilerUp89: Florida State brings a young but talented team into Mackey Arena. They haven’t really put it all together so far this season, but they will present Purdue some challenges inside as they are one of the few teams in the nation that can match up with Purdue’s centers as they have three players at 7’1” or above. FSU is also near the top in the nation in steals and blocks so Purdue will have to take care of the ball and work a little harder than usual for good shots.

At the other end of the court, Florida State has struggled with committing turnovers and an abysmal 65.4% from the FT line. Matthew Cleveland is the future star, but as a freshman he hasn’t been taking over games yet. The Florida State offense does a good job sharing the basketball and none of their guys are high usage players as a result.

Keys to the game: 1) winning the turnover battle, 2) winning the rebounding battle. FSU creates a lot of turnovers on defense and Purdue will need to avoid those. On the flip side, if Purdue can get turnovers of their own and get out in transition they can avoid FSU’s length in the half court sets. FSU is one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country but struggles defensively. Limiting their 2nd chance points while adding more than a handful of their own will help Purdue in this one.

LATE UPDATE: Florida State will be out two starters for this one as their starting PG will miss the game for personal reasons and their starting center is dealing with an injury. Best wishes go out to the both of them.

Poll

This is the part where Kombucha Girl goes "Well..."

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Purdue
    (156 votes)
  • 4%
    Florida State
    (8 votes)
164 votes total Vote Now

Clemson Tigers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

8pm | ESPN2

misdreavus79: I’m just here to point out Rutgers lost to UMass too. Oh and their second loss isn’t to LSU on a neutral court. Carry on.

Narrator: Rutgers has three losses, not two.

Poll

No.

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Tiger tiger
    (93 votes)
  • 33%
    Or the Knight
    (47 votes)
140 votes total Vote Now

Northwestern Wildcats at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

8pm | ESPNU

MNW: Should be a fun test of where the 'Cats are at. Wake can get out and push it a little bit, with Oklahoma transfer G Alondes Williams a volume scorer who will test Northwestern's perimeter D along with deep threat Daivien Williamson.

It's a pretty similar formula for NU until Chase Audige is back: can a third scorer give Boo Buie and Pete Nance the support they need? (That's presupposing that Buie and Nance keep scoring at the rates they do.) The Deacs roll out 6'8" F Jake LaRavia (14.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) AND a 7-footer in Dallas Walton, meaning Nance and C Ryan Young--to say nothing of Elyjah Williams, who I'd hoped for more from--will have their hands full inside. A big game on the boards and low block opens up so much for the NU offense.

Ultimately, unless you really feel you have a bead on the 'Cats in 2021-22, I'd avoid the hell out of picking here. I'll give the edge to the home Deacs here, but a win would have me high on NU's NIT hopes.

Poll

Look at these two good-looking, small-sized private schools with a can-do attitude and lots of gusto.

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    the purple ones
    (34 votes)
  • 71%
    the other ones
    (85 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now

Duke Blue Devils at Ohio State Buckeyes

8:30pm | ESPN

MaximumSam: Nothing like staying up late to see your team get caved in.

The Buckeyes have been competitive early on, even as they’ve gone 1-2 against the better portion of their schedule. Now they get a Duke team that has already beaten Kentucky and Gonzaga. Led by likely first or second pick in the draft, freshman Paolo Banchero, as well as second year forward Wendell Moore, Duke is very tough to defend.

OSU is still likely without Sueing and Towns, though it is possible we get Eugene Brown back. That could be helpful—perimeter defense has been a struggle at times without any wing shaped player that can move his feet. Banchero has struggled with cramps at times—that might be OSU’s best defense.

E.J. Liddell does have a chance to stuff a freshman in a locker on national television—scouts will be paying attention.

Poll

Just disgusting.

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Blue
    (109 votes)
  • 21%
    Red
    (30 votes)
139 votes total Vote Now

Wednesday, December (!!!) 1

We’ll work on filling in and adding a few more thoughts for you as we go this week. Look for updated previews tomorrow!

Louisville Cardinals at Michigan State Spartans

6:15pm | ESPN | MSU -4 | O/U 136.5

Green Akers: Louisville is off to an inconsistent start, dropping an early game to Furman but also taking care of Mississippi State and Maryland. They lean heavily on former Florida transfer Noah Locke as their lead guard and former Wendy’s customer Malik Williams as their chief muscle in the frontcourt. The Cardinals also run deep, having seven players average more than five points.

Everyone should also listen to the audio of former assistant Dino Gaudio trying to blackmail Chris Mack, I circle back to it probably every other week or so and it never gets less remarkable.

Poll

Yucky

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Lhvl
    (12 votes)
  • 87%
    greeeeeeeeen
    (82 votes)
94 votes total Vote Now

Nebraska Cornhuskers at NC State Wolfpack

6:15pm | ESPNU | NCSt -6.5 | O/U 147

Jesse Collins: Nebrasketball travels to North Carolina State in what will most likely be disappointment. This team has been somewhat of a disaster early on with some ghastly early season rebounding, and troublesome shooting from deep.

Luckily, I’m not convinced the Wolfpack are particularly better offensively or defensively either, but they can rebound which will continue to plague this team until they figure something out.

That said, Bryce McGowens is as good as advertised early on, and if Keisei Tominaga can do the things he showed against South Dakota, Nebraska’s offense will look less stupid and they’ll win more games. That’s a lot of ifs, but hey, I’m taking what I can get!

Poll

uh

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    huskers
    (16 votes)
  • 82%
    pack
    (77 votes)
93 votes total Vote Now

Virginia Tech Hokies at Maryland Terrapins

6:15pm | ESPN2 | MD -1 | O/U 132

#20 Michigan Wolverines at North Carolina Tar Heels

8:15pm | ESPN | Mich -2.5 | O/U 151.5

Miami Hurricanes at Penn State Nittany Lions

8:15pm | ESPNU | PSU -3

misdreavus79: Penn State put up a good fight against LSU and demolished Oregon State during their tournament run, while Miami went and lost to Dayton and, justifiably, Alabama. The hope here is that it being a home game proves to be the difference between a win and a loss, but with Penn State you never know!

Word on the street is that Jevonnie Scott is eligible and working his way back to form, so hopefully we see some of him in this game. With Greg Lee out for what’s looking like the rest of the non-conference, any height we can get is welcome.

Poll

uh...in basketball?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    da u
    (35 votes)
  • 68%
    /catnoise.wav
    (76 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now

Wisconsin Badgers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

8:15pm | ESPN2 | wisc -3.5 | O/U 130.5

Kind of...: After winning the Maui Invitational, a young Wisconsin team is basically playing with house money. While disappointing, a loss in a true road game against quality competition doesn’t figure to be too damaging. That said, as long as Johnny Davis is healthy, there’s no reason the Badgers couldn’t grab the road win.

Georgia Tech brings plenty of experience back from last year’s ACC Tournament champions (bet your forgot that, huh?). Jordan Usher and Michael Devoe are athletic tweeners who can each play multiple positions and Rodney Howard (6’10”, 245) will pose a challenge insider that the Badgers will have to handle better than they did Providence’s Nate Watson if they want to leave Atlanta with a victory. Josh Pastner has evolved into a pretty good coach, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him throw multiple defenses at Wisconsin.

But, with Tyler Wahl fresh off a breakout performance in Las Vegas and Johnny Davis looking like a first-team all-conference performer, Georgia Tech will have its hands full as well. The Yellowjackets have yet to face a KenPom top-150 opponent this year, and struggled to a two-point victory over Georgia Southern their last game.

Stew: Fuck wisconsin.

Poll

Have you no sense of decency, sir?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    badger
    (88 votes)
  • 30%
    yellow jacket
    (38 votes)
126 votes total Vote Now

Predictions/Commentary

We’ve seen the Big Ten flop in a 6-2 loss in the Gavitt Games, then only Wisconsin win a non-conference tournament title of note. Where, now, do you see the conference in the national basketball landscape?

BoilerUp89: The SEC and Big 12 are a step above the B1G this year. They are both deeper and have more national contenders than the B1G. Although I think the conference is equal with the Big East this season, the 6-2 loss in the Gavitt Games is going to prevent the national media from buying into that idea. The B1G is better than the ACC this year, so a loss in the challenge would be catastrophic for the B1G’s future bubble teams.

MaximumSam: I’d say just fine. Purdue has looked like a real contender, while Wiscy and MSU have looked very tough. Michigan and OSU are finding their way. Illinois has looked rough, but they seem likely to rebound. The conference may not be a complete meat grinder like the past couple years, but they are still quite good.

Kind of...: I’m not ready to concede that the SEC is better. LSU is #16 in KenPom and just had to go to OT to beat Penn State. Plus Georgia is worse than every B1G team this year, and Missouri might be too (though this doesn’t mean they still won’t upset Illinois). B1G is probably still #2 behind Big 12 and the Gavitt games is going to look like a fluke soon enough (no Kofi, no Johnny Davis, etc.). The ACC is off to a pretty poor start, and the B1G needs to clean up.

Buffkomodo: Truthfully, the B1G status hasn’t moved a ton even with the Gavitt massacre. Lots of teams came out and won in one game sample sizes. Yay.

It wasn’t as if there were blowouts across the board or anything so just hold off on the panic. What would be concerning is if the B1G shits its pants vs the ACC. Be competitive and steal one or two you shouldn’t and the B1G is mighty again.

misdreavus79: If Kenpom is to be believed, the Big Ten is still No. 2, but if we’re going strictly by wins and losses, they’re lagging behind the SEC, Big 12, and aforementioned Big East. I think when it’s all said and done, the Gavitt games are going be the anomaly, however, even if the Big Ten itself is not the death with that it was the past two seasons. And hey, who knows, maybe that means they’ll actually do well in the tournament!

Stew: Other conferences may have more actual contenders with Illinois’s disappointing start to the season, however, the bottom and middle of the B1G is still probably better than most other conferences, so it kinda evens out. It all depends on what you’re looking at.

MNW: I think BuffKomodo hits it with the closeness of those Gavitt Games results. Very few (none?) of those games were blowouts, and we’ve seen the youth of a couple of the Big Ten frontrunners (Michigan, e.g.) needing a little more time to gel.

I’d take the Big XII over the Big Ten, but not the SEC—I’ll believe Florida when I see it, and Alabama looked vulnerable down in their tourney games against Dayton (L) and Drake (W).

Poll

Rank the conferences:

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Big Ten, Big XII, SEC
    (40 votes)
  • 6%
    Big Ten, SEC, Big XII
    (10 votes)
  • 39%
    Big XII, Big Ten, SEC
    (57 votes)
  • 10%
    Big XII, SEC, Big Ten
    (16 votes)
  • 6%
    SEC, Big XII, Big Ten
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    SEC, Big Ten, Big XII
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    Actually the ACC is better, my column:
    (6 votes)
146 votes total Vote Now

Using the games above, tell us who wins the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

BoilerUp89: I’ll guess B1G 8, ACC 6

Kind of...: I’m saying 9-5 for B1G and think 10-4 is more likely than 8-6.

Buffkomodo: My first run through said 7-7. It’ll more likely wind up in the 10-4 area because I suck at judging these things. I’ll stick with a push and hope for the best.

misdreavus79: I’m hoping for a 12-2 destruction as payback for that one time the ACC run roughshod over the Big Ten. Sorry Ohio State and [random team that’ll likely lose because of course they will god I hope it’s not mine].

Stew: I’m hoping for 1-13 with Iowa as the only win. However, I don’t think that’s very likely. My guess is probably 8-6 in favor of the B1G.

MNW: 1-1 on night 1 (IL), then 2-4 on night 2 (IU, PU), then 5-1 on night 3 (all but UNL). That makes...8-6? Sure. 8-6.

Poll

How does the Big Ten-ACC Challenge finish up?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    10-4 B1G or better
    (11 votes)
  • 31%
    9-5 B1G
    (39 votes)
  • 34%
    8-6 B1G
    (43 votes)
  • 16%
    7-7 push
    (20 votes)
  • 5%
    8-6 ACC
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    9-5 ACC
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    10-4 ACC or worse
    (2 votes)
124 votes total Vote Now

Here’s your open thread for the week’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge and all college basketball! Go nuts, you crazy kids. Usual rules apply.