The ACC-Big Ten Challenge does two things very well: It dominates the college basketball marketplace for three days and can turn out to be a strong indicator for each league contender.
This season, the matchups should deliver once again. Of course, most of them are matched for rating interest and the home/road split is done to ensure teams don’t go on the road two seasons in a row. So, there are some procedures in planning that have to be followed.
Still, you won’t be disappointed.
Here’s the schedule:
Illinois at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. ESPNU | Live stats
Virginia Tech at Penn State, 7 p.m. ESPN2 | Live stats
Michigan State at Louisville, 7:30 p.m., ESPN | Live stats
NC State at Wisconsin, 9 p.m., ESPN2 | Live stats
Pitt at Iowa, 9 p.m., ESPNU | Live stats
Indiana at Duke, 9:30 p.m., ESPN | Live stats
Rutgers at Miami, 7:15 p.m., ESPNU | Live stats
Syracuse at Ohio State, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2 | Live stats
Virginia at Maryland, 7:30 p.m., ESPN | Live stats
Purdue at Florida State, 9:15 p.m., ESPN2 | Live stats
Georgia Tech at Northwestern, 9:15 p.m., ESPNU | Live stats
North Carolina at Michigan, 9:30 p.m., ESPN | Live stats
It’s the ACC/B1G Challenge
It’s UNC’s first trip to A2 … EVER!
It’s SOLD OUT
AND … IT’S A MAIZE OUT!
— Michigan Men’s Basketball (@umichbball) November 25, 2018
Top games to watch
1. Indiana at Duke: The Blue Devils will be smarting after losing the Maui title to Gonzaga last week. Indiana comes in with nothing to lose. The Hoosiers just have to show well. And they should. Indiana has two star talents in Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan to go up against Duke’s Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Indiana defended the scorers of Marquette all at home two weeks ago. This will be the Hoosiers’ toughest test to date.
2. North Carolina at Michigan: The Tar Heels have some momentum coming into the game after a comeback win over UCLA in Las Vegas. But the Wolverines are playing defense at a February level. The Tar Heels will need to lean heavily on the upperclassmen to handle the road. The good news for UNC is it has already played two true road games and two neutral in Las Vegas, winning three of four.
3. Virginia at Maryland: The Cavaliers are rolling again, just like last season when they won the ACC regular season and tournament title. Maryland is a hot team after crushing Marshall at home. This is an old-style ACC rivalry, now a part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Terps will need to have huge games out of the inside duo of Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando. Scoring is a chore against Virginia and this will be a monster test for the Terps. Virginia is getting the scoring it covets from De’Andre Hunter, who didn’t play in the UMBC loss last March. College Park should be rocking for this rivalry game.
4. Purdue at Florida State: Carsen Edwards will have to slither through the Seminoles’ defense to ensure Purdue can claim this win. Leonard Hamilton will have the defense tight for the Boilermakers the way he did against Villanova. But the Wildcats were able to drive on Florida State, something Edwards and Co. will have to do to win this game.
5. Syracuse at Ohio State: The Orange still have Final Four talent when healthy. Guard Frank Howard came back to play against Colgate and logged 19 minutes, but struggled shooting. If Syracuse can find its mojo again then it could come out of Columbus with a much-needed power conference win. The Buckeyes are one of the surprise teams so far in the country. Chris Holtmann has a great poker face because he didn’t oversell this crew. He may have known they were better than advertised with wins at Cincinnati and Creighton.
6. Michigan State at Louisville: The Spartans won the Las Vegas Invitational after beating UCLA and coming back to take down Texas. The Spartans offense was smoking in that second half against the Longhorns. Louisville will get into its opponent with Chris Mack’s intensity rubbing off on the Cards. Louisville had a rough go in New York by leaving 0-2 but still played strong in the games against Tennessee and Marquette.
Two big-time match-ups on the road this week 🛣️
▶️ First up, the #B1GACC Challenge against Louisville
— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) November 26, 2018
7. NC State at Wisconsin: The Wolfpack played a soft slate before this game and with good reason. NC State was still figuring out how to play and who to go early and at 6-0, they have their go-to guy in senior guard Torin Dorn. The Wolfpack are best when it’s a bit heater skelter. Wisconsin has had great success controlling tempo. Ethan Happ, D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison and Kobe King are all in sync right now. The Badgers have the look of a top four Big Ten team once again.
8. Nebraska at Clemson: The Huskers desperately need this game after a poor showing against Texas Tech in Kansas City last week. Nebraska didn’t win the necessary non-conference games a year ago. Sure, the Huskers have the Gavitt Games win over Seton Hall, but they need more. Getting a true road win against a top-half ACC team in Clemson would do wonders for the resume. Marcquise Reed has been on fire of late, scoring 27 in the Cayman Island final loss to Creighton.
9. Minnesota at Boston College: Check out two of the best players in the country at their position in forward Jordan Murphy of Minnesota and guard Ky Bowman of Boston College. The Eagles are coming off a win over Loyola-Chicago in Florida while the Gophers knocked off Washington in Vancouver.
10. Illinois at Notre Dame: This should be a semi regular rivalry. But alas with schedules it would be difficult. The Illini have a budding star in Trent Frazier and showed their grittiness in Maui. Still, that didn’t translate into wins. The Irish humbled old rival DePaul last weekend. The Illini desperately need a win to show what they are doing is working. And they can fluster the Irish. This is a good test for both.
11. Virginia Tech at Penn State: The Hokies already knocked off one Big Ten contender in Purdue in Charleston. Taking down Penn State on the road would continue to help the Hokies solid profile. Penn State needs a quality win, home or road, after losing at DePaul. How the Hokies handle the Nittany Lions bigs will be the difference.
The lesson after @ESPNCharleston ??
— Virginia Tech Basketball 🦃 (@Hokie_Hoops) November 20, 2018
12. Pitt at Iowa: The Panthers were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the ACC. They may still finish near the bottom but clearly are better after beating A-10 favorite Saint Louis. Iowa, which won the 2K Classic two weeks ago in New York, should win this game if the Hawkeyes expect to be an NCAA tournament team.
13. Rutgers at Miami: The Scarlet Knights are defending much better since giving up 84 to St. John’s, holding Eastern Michigan (four in the first half) to 36 and 44 to Boston University. Miami is coming off a disappointing loss 83-81 loss to Seton Hall in the Wooden Legacy late Sunday night in Fullerton. Miami had a shot to win the game in the final possession but couldn’t get it to go down nor could the Canes get the putback.
14. Georgia Tech at Northwestern: The Wildcats went 2-1 in the Wooden Legacy in Fullerton, losing to Mountain West upstart Fresno State. Vic Law is scoring well for the Wildcats. Georgia Tech lost in the one game it was expect to so far at Tennessee. The Yellow Jackets, in a rebuild situation, are still trying to figure who will be the go-to guy.