Around the Big Ten Basketball Week 4
Matt Freiler, Hunter Pitcoff, Jordan Kalfon and David Hadar break down all the action coming up this week on the hardwood in the Big Ten.
The annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge is always viewed as a marquee event of the nonconference slate, as two of the nation’s premier conferences battle for supremacy. The Big Ten has come out on top in recent years, but the ACC won the matchup last season.
Both conferences in recent years have put their top teams against each other to see which conference comes out on top. That is not the case this season, as the slate provides just two ranked games with a couple of ACC heavyweights taking on middle of the pack Big Ten foes.
The signature game of the event is the final game of the challenge when fifth-ranked Notre Dame travels to East Lansing to take on third-ranked Michigan State. Both teams are riding high after knocking off ranked opponents in the final of touted nonconference tournaments. Notre Dame won the Maui Invitational, while Michigan State took home the PK80 Victory bracket trophy.
The Spartans are shaping up as the top team in the Big Ten. Freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. looks to be a load defensively, while sophomore guard Josh Langford proved against North Carolina that he is capable of playing Robin to Miles Bridges’ Batman. Sophomore center Nick Ward terrorized the Tar Heels in the post and should have similar success against Notre Dame, as the Spartans have too much talent for the Fighting Irish.
The other ranked matchup in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge is Miami and Minnesota, which might be the best matchup of the entire slate. This matchup features two top-15 teams in the nation that each have a different method for success.
The Hurricanes rely on a terrific backcourt with Ja’Quan Newton and Bruce Brown, while Minnesota likes to pound the ball inside to their big men in Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch. Guards Amir Coffey and Nate Mason are also players capable of taking over a game. The Golden Gophers are probably the best team in the Big Ten aside from Michigan State.
Great post play combined with the talented backcourt make them difficult to beat at home. Minnesota will rely on the conference’s leading scorer in Murphy, as the Golden Gophers squeak by the Hurricanes.
Every year, a Big Ten team gets stuck with matching up against Duke, and Indiana pulled the short end of the stick this year. The Hoosiers have rebounded nicely from their opening night loss to Indiana State by winning four of their last five, but the Blue Devils boast an unblemished 8-0 record and the nation’s best freshman in Marvin Bagley III. Robert Johnson is a solid player for the Hoosiers, but he would need to score at least 30 points for Indiana to have a chance against Duke.
The Michigan Wolverines face a similar problem as they have to travel to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels. Michigan had a decent showing in Maui as it went 2-1 and finished fifth. Charles Matthews is the star for the Wolverines, but the Tar Heels will be too much for he and the Wolverines in Chapel Hill.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email email@example.com.