Big Ten-ACC Challenge Overview

Story posted November 28, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Hunter Pitcoff

For the last 18 years, the Big Ten-ACC Challenge has featured great programs squaring off against one another to prove which basketball conference is the superior.  With both conferences loaded with talented teams this season, expect there to be an exciting slate of games to watch over the next couple of days.

Monday, November 27

Syracuse 72, Maryland 70

The high-scoring affair kicked off the challenge.  Maryland rode the hot hand of Kevin Huerter, who made seven three-pointers in the game.  That being said, Syracuse was able to use their classic 2-3 zone to create turnovers towards the end to secure the victory.  The Orange’s backcourt of Tyus Battle and Frank Howard stepped up once again, as the pair continues to build their on-court chemistry.

Virginia 49, Wisconsin 37

When looking at the score, it’s evident that this game was all about defense.  Ever since taking over the program in 2009, Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s emphasis on defense has made the Cavaliers one of the top teams in the ACC.  While Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ has himself a good game, the rest of Wisconsin’s woes continue to linger as the team currently holds a 3-4 record.

Tuesday, November 28

Northwestern at Georgia Tech

Expect this game to be a high scoring one, as both teams have players who are able to take over at the offensive end of the court.  Northwestern hasn’t lived up the hype thus far, but a road victory against an underrated Georgia Tech team could be used as a momentum builder heading in conference play.  As for the Yellow Jackets, the keys to the game will be to run the offense through Ben Lammers.  The senior center has been competing at a high level this season, and seeks to continue his dominance against an undersized Northwestern.

Florida State at Rutgers

Despite having a weak resume through their first six games, Rutgers remains unbeaten, and is hungry for their first big win of the season against Florida State.  The Scarlet Knights will need this victory in order to prove the nation that they’re not a team to be reckoned with.  On the other hand, the Seminoles are also looking to keep their hot start alive, as they boast a 5-0 record. With the top three scorers from the previous season leaving for the NBA Draft, Terance Mann has shown he could be the go-to scorer for the Seminoles.  Florida State’s opposing size may be too much for the Scarlet Knights to handle, and the Seminoles should win by a wide margin.

Louisville at Purdue

After two tough losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky, Purdue blew out Arizona 89-64.  There’s no denying that the Boilermakers’ have the talent to compete with the best teams in the country, but do they have the consistency to show up every single game? A victory over Louisville could pay dividends down the road when the NCAA Tournament committee is making the bracket.  All the drama surrounding Louisville could definitely take a toll on the players, but the Cardinals have been able to win all their games so far.  Although Purdue is at home, Louisville will not go down without a fight, as the game should be tightly contested.

Iowa at Virginia Tech

Ever since arriving at Virginia Tech, head coach Buzz Williams has improved the record of the Hokies each season.  Virginia Tech’s explosive offense has seemed virtually unstoppable at times, with Justin Bibbs and Ahmed Hill looking to continue their dominance against the Hawkeyes.  Iowa needs a hot start to keep up with the Hokies; however, the inexperience of the Hawkeyes will come back to haunt them, as Virginia Tech is poised for a blowout victory at home.

Illinois at Wake Forest

Wake Forest’s willingness to resign Danny Manning so early in the season is a bit head-scratching, as the team is off to a brutal 2-4.  After coming off a tournament appearance last season, the Demon Deacons haven’t been able to recoup and build off an impressive 2016-2017 campaign.  The Fighting Illini are facing their toughest opponent yet, as the team remains undefeated heading into the game.  Despite the Yellow Jackets having a more talented roster on paper and home court advantage, Illinois will be looking to keep their winning streak alive.

Wednesday, November 29

Clemson at Ohio State

A Clemson-Ohio State football game would be far more exciting to watch, as the two basketball programs are currently in the rebuilding stages. The Buckeyes have been battle-tested thus far, including the likes of Gonzaga, Stanford, and Butler.  Clemson has played well on both ends of the floor, and will need to maintain their solid defense for upcoming weeks to make up for their lack of shooting.  Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop is the best player in this game, and his performance will more or less determine the winner.

Penn State at NC State

With both teams playing better than expected, this game could be a fun one to watch.  The departure of Dennis Smith hasn’t affected the Wolfpack the slightest, as they had a huge upset victory over Arizona last week.  Tony Carr has had a remarkable start to the season, and looks to lead the Nittany Lions to a victory on the road. Offense will definitely be the focal point in the contest; however, the team that makes the crucial plays on the defensive end down the stretch should secure the victory.

Michigan at North Carolina

North Carolina shot a staggering five percent from the three-point line in their embarrassing loss to Michigan State.  The Tar Heels look to bounce back at home against an underestimated Michigan team.  The Wolverines are more than capable of pulling off the upset, but will need to play their best game of the season in order to do so.  That being said, it’s hard to imagine the Tar Heels losing two straight games this early on in the season, but the possibility is still there.

Miami at Minnesota

Despite nearly blowing a lead against Alabama, who only had three players on the court, the Gophers have been spectacular this season.  Miami has been nothing short of great as well, and is seeking to pull off the upset against the Gophers.  Although undefeated, one glaring weakness on Miami would be their inconsistent offense.  If Miami is able to heat up against Minnesota, a close game is to be expected between two talented teams.

Boston College at Nebraska

While both teams were bottom feeders of their conferences last season, Boston College and Nebraska are off to much better starts than a season ago.  The backcourt tandem of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson will be a tough guard for the Cornhuskers defense.  That being said, Nebraska’s ability to block shots and create steals will be crucial.  The fast pace tempo by both teams will make this game up for grabs.

Duke at Indiana

Duke and Indiana are polar opposites of each other in terms of season projections.  Duke is still ranked No. 1, and has the resume to back up their success.  Indiana is in a complete rebuild, and new head coach Archie Miller will need time to bring the Hoosiers back to glory.  The size and athleticism Duke brings to the table will be too much for the inexperienced Hoosiers.

Thursday, November 30

Notre Dame at Michigan State

Perhaps the most hyped-up game of the challenge, Notre Dame and Michigan State have both looked like championship contenders.  The leadership by Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell makes the Fighting Irish a dangerous team.  Michigan State forward Miles Bridges has been underwhelming, and needs to play well in order for Michigan State to win the game.  Rebounding and perimeter defense will be the two key factors of the game.  The Spartans’ imposing size gives them the upper edge on the glass, whereas the three point shooting of Notre Dame is one of the best in the country.  The contrast between the two teams is drastic; nevertheless, the game will be exciting to watch and has the potential to be the best game in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

 

Hunter Pitcoff is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism.  To contact him, email hxp80@psu.edu.