Preview of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

27 Nov

Tuesday begins the two-day event known as the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  In its infancy the ACC owned this meeting between the two conferences, but in recent years the Big Ten has begun to turn the corner and take control of it.

This year’s slate provides a bunch of intriguing high-profile matchups.

OHIO STATE at Duke, ESPN, 9:30 p.m. Wednesday

Two top-five teams do battle at Cameron Indoor on Wednesday night.  Duke is coming off a title at the stacked Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in which they beat Minnesota, VCU and Louisville where their point guard Quinn Cook became a leader, especially down the stretch in the final against Louisville. The point guard battle in this game is just one of the interesting match ups, Cook will go head-to-head with one of the country’s best defensive point guards in Aaron Craft.

The other in-game match up to watch is the Buckeyes DeShaun Thomas and Duke’s Ryan Kelly, a couple of versatile big men who like to play on the perimeter.  Thomas can score in buckets, capable of dropping 30 on any given night.  Will Kelly be able to use his height advantage to get his shot off against Thomas?  This is another early-season game that many have been looking forward to.

NC State at MICHIGAN, ESPN, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

This is a game between two teams that got plenty of preseason pub, one has lived up thus far while the other has struggled somewhat of late.  Michigan coasted to a win in the NIT Season Tip-Off with wins in New York over Pittsburgh and Kansas State while North Carolina State stumbled in Puerto Rico falling to Oklahoma State by 20 and nearly got caught at home by UNC-Asheville squeaking out a two-point win.

The Wolverines have been led, predictably by their guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. who lead the team in scoring and assists. It is freshman Glenn Robinson III who is third on the team in scoring and the team’s leading rebounder at 7.6 per contest that is turning heads in Ann Arbor.

The Wolfpack have their own freshman surprise in forward T.J. Warren who leads the team in scoring and along with Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie lead a talented frontcourt for Mark Gottfried’s squad.  Point guard Lorenzo Brown has the job of trying to right the ship for N.C. State, but doing it at Crisler Arena will be no easy task.

Like a lot of games this one should be about which team can enforce their will on the other; the N.C. State frontcourt or Michigan’s backcourt.

North Carolina at INDIANA, ESPN, 9:30 p.m. Tuesday

Indiana is one of the top teams in the country and they play host to North Carolina.  This game will also feature two freshman guards in North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell.  But the thing to watch in this game is the Tar Heel frontcourt, they don’t have a lot of size and in order for Carolina to be successful they need more from the likes of Joel James and Brice Johnson.

They will need those reinforcements to do battle with the likes of Cody Zeller, Christian Watford and Will Sheehey.  The thing to watch in this one is how aggressive UNC is crashing the boards, which is something Roy Williams’ team struggled with in their loss to Butler in Maui losing the battle on the glass 36-27.

MINNESOTA at Florida State, ESPN2, 7:15 p.m. Tuesday

This is a game where both teams that could use another signature win.  Wins over Memphis and Stanford should be good but Memphis loses to VCU and struggles to beat Northern Iowa and Stanford falls to Belmont.

Florida State began the season with a loss to South Alabama but followed it up with wins over BYU and St. Joesphs.

Minnesota’s Andre Hollins dropped 41 on his hometown Memphis Tigers earlier this week and Rodney Williams and a recovering Trevor Mbakwe are trying to lead the Gophers back to the NCAA Tournament.  This game is Minnesota’s last chance for a signature non-conference win this year.

Florida State has got to get more offensive help for Michael Snaer and that needs to come from junior Terrance Shannon who has the ability to be more of an offensive threat if he looks for his shot.

Two teams trying to find their ways early on, whoever comes out with a win will certainly use it as something to build on.

This challenge showcases two top conferences with games that are both important to teams but should make for good viewing over the next two days.

Here is the full schedule for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge:

Tuesday 

IOWA at Virginia Tech, ESPNU, 7:15 p.m.
No. 25 MINNESOTA at Florida State, ESPN2, 7:15 p.m.
No. 6 NC State at No. 5 MICHIGAN, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.
NEBRASKA at Wake Forest, ESPNU, 9:15 p.m.
Maryland at NORTHWESTERN, ESPN2, 9:15 p.m.
No. 13 North Carolina at No. 1 INDIANA, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday

Virginia at No. 22 WISCONSIN, ESPN2, 7 p.m.
PURDUE at Clemson, ESPNU, 7:15 p.m.
No. 9 MICHIGAN STATE at Miami (Fla.), ESPN, 7:30 p.m.
Georgia Tech at ILLINOIS, ESPN2, 9 p.m.
Boston College at PENN STATE, ESPNU, 9:15 p.m.
No. 8 OHIO STATE at No. 15 Duke, ESPN, 9:30 p.m

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