ACC-Big Ten Challenge Recap
The annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. With both conferences commonly regarded as the two best in the country, the teams provided for a good challenge that provided exciting games between Pitt and Penn State and Georgia Tech and Illinois, as well as a huge upset by North Carolina at No. 1 Michigan State.
The challenge started Tuesday with three games featuring the ACC teams at home.
In Syracuse, the fourth-ranked Orange had no problem dispatching the Indiana Hoosiers, taking the win, 69-52, and putting the ACC up 1-0. The 2-3 zone was key, as it was in Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament win over the Hoosiers a year ago. They held Indiana to 36.6% shooting from the floor, and sophomore guard Trevor Cooney sparked the offense with 21 points and five three-pointers. Yogi Ferrell kept the Hoosiers within striking distance in the first half, with his strong shooting, but was shutdown in the second half with only three points.
Meanwhile in Atlanta, Georgia Tech charged back from a 12-point deficit to defeat Illinois 67-64. After trailing by three at the half, Illinois guard Rayvonte Rice scored eight unanswered points to give Illinois the lead. Illinois led throughout most of the half and took a 60-48 lead midway through the half. The Jackets went on a run, scoring 12 straight and tying the game on a Marcus Georges-Hunt layup. Center Daniel Miller put the Jackets ahead by one with a bucket, with 21 seconds remaining, and Georgia Tech finished with a strong defensive possession not allowing Illinois to score.
The final early game was an exciting matchup between Pitt and Penn State at Petersen Events Center. Tim Frazier scored 27 for the Nittany Lions, but they were not able to execute down the stretch. Pitt forward Talib Zanna was unstoppable in the second half, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the second fram. Zanna also pulled down 10 boards and blocked four shots. The Panthers outscored Penn State in the paint 32-8 in the second half. A Donovan Jack layup with just over five minutes remaining put Penn State ahead 59-58, but an 11-3 Pitt run effectively finished the Nittany Lions, eventually winning 78-69.
The Big Ten got in the win column in the late games, going 2-1, with both wins coming at home.
No. 23 Iowa defeated Notre Dame in a shootout, winning 98-93. Both teams shot over 50% from the field, and Iowa had a huge first half with 52 points. Notre Dame pushed back in the second half; led by Garrick Sherman’s career-high 29 points, but it would not be enough. Iowa took a seven-point lead on a Jarrod Uthoff dunk with 22 seconds left, and the Hawkeyes iced the game with free throws.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota proved to be too much for Florida State, as they won the contest 71-61, despite shooting 34% from the field. Minnesota was able to edge the Seminoles with rebounding, pulling down 13 offensive rebounds, while only turning the ball over six times. The Seminoles played themselves out of the game by turning the ball over 17 times and missing 10 free throws. The new foul rules were in full effect in this contest, with 52 fouls being called in total.
In the feature game of the night, Duke was able to keep the ACC above .500 for the night, defeating Michigan 79-69 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on an amazing second half performance by Quinn Cook. Duke was terrific defensively, forcing the Wolverines to miss 17 of their first 21 shots. Cook scored all of his 24 points in the second half, and added nine assists while only turning the ball over twice. Freshman Jabari Parker added 15 points. Michigan’s stars were completely shut down. Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas combined for only 12 points, and Stauskas did not score a field goal.
Day Two began with the Big Ten trailing 4-2, but with the benefit of four home games.
Ohio State gave the Big Ten a boost early, as the Buckeyes dominated future Big Ten member Maryland 76-60. LaQuinton Ross scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half, draining his first four three-pointers. Ohio State never trailed in the game and led by 25 at one point in the second half.
Wisconsin added to the Big Ten’s Day Two lead and tied the series up with a lackluster home win against Virginia, taking it 48-38. The win was Bo Ryan’s 300th with the program. Both teams shot the ball miserably, with Wisconsin shooting 28.8% from the field and Virginia knocking down just 23% of their shots.
The ACC regained the lead with NC State destroying Northwestern at home 69-48, with the Wildcats shooting only 25% from the field.
The biggest upset of the tournament came in primetime with North Carolina taking down top-ranked Michigan State on the road, 79-65. The Tar Heels led 18-6 midway through the first half and never trailed. The Spartans roared back at the end of the first half and into the second, but a 12-1 North Carolina run finished the Spartans.
Purdue crushed Boston College 88-67 and Nebraska beat Miami 60-49 to tie the challenge at six.
No conclusion was drawn as to which conference is better, as the series finished in a tie for the second straight season. The ACC’s addition of Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt put the conference in a better position as the three schools went 2-1. The ACC still leads the all time series 10-3-2.
Michael Katz is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Michael is a Junior Broadcast Journalism major originally from the Washington DC area. He has done play by play and beat writing for various Penn State sports. He is a supporter of all Washington sports teams and hopes to host a sports radio show focusing on Washington teams in the future.