As college basketball is well under way, it's just about time for the tournament that produces some of the biggest games of the year; the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. This year is one of the most exciting slates ever featuring one of the biggest matchups of the season in No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 6 Michigan State.
Virginia Tech vs. Wisconsin
This one may not be as big of a blowout as people think. While Wisconsin is ranked number 25 and 4-1, all of their wins come against mid-majors including a 60-58 home squeaker against Iona. Their one loss came against UConn, but that's nothing to be ashamed of.
That being said, I don't think Virginia Tech will be able to match up with the Badgers, especially big man Marcus Landry. For Wisconsin, it should be a nice tune-up for a game against Marquette later that week.
Prediction: Wisconsin 68, Virginia Tech 54
Duke vs. Purdue
This, along with the North Carolina vs. Michigan State game, is one of the more intriguing games during the challenge. Both teams are ranked in the top ten and they're both looking for a marquee win in non-conference play. Duke comes in undefeated at seventh in the nation. Although they have played all cupcakes up until now, they have dominated everyone they've played.
Purdue is also a good team, coming in at ten in the nation. They are 5-1, but coming off an overtime loss to Oklahoma. Purdue came out of nowhere to contend for the Big Ten title last year, and they come in with high expectations this year.
Before Prudue's loss, I probably would have gone with the Boilermakers to win this game, but they've lost a lot of momentum after their tough loss to Oklahoma. They're a young team and it's going to be tough to come back and beat Duke after that loss.
Prediction: Duke 84, Purdue 78
Clemson vs. Illinois
This is a classic match-up of two undefeated teams who haven't beaten any good teams with Clemson's best win coming at Temple and Illinois's at Vanderbilt. Illinoi's problem is offense, ranking 101st in the country in points per game, while they are average at points allowed per game. Clemson, on the other hand, is average, ranking in the thirties in both categories. This game should be able to tell us which team is good and which is a pretender.
Prediction: Clemson 64, Illinois 62
Miami vs. Ohio State
Ohio State, like Illinois, is a good team that is down this year. Miami is primed for a good year and is ranked 22nd by the AP. Ohio State is 2-0 after crushing Delaware State and barely getting by Bowling Green. Miami is 3-1 after beating three bad teams and losing by 13 to UConn, but again, that's not something to be ashamed of. I think that this will be he win that finally gets Miami on track for a winning season and a decent seed in the NCAA tournament.
Prediction: Miami 67, Ohio State 61
Virginia vs. Minnesota
After winning their first three games, Virginia has fallen in their second two to Liberty and Syracuse. While Syracuse is a good team and that loss isn't that bad, the Liberty loss really hurts them and it will be hard to get back on track after those two losses. Meanwhile, Tubby Smith has turned the Minnesota program around, leading the Gophers to a 5-0 start.
Prediction: Minnesota 72, Virginia 62
Boston College vs. Iowa
After a 5-0 start, Iowa dropped their first game to West Virginia Friday night. The Hawkeyes are a very young team, starting three freshmen, a sophomore, and a senior. Freshmen Matt Gatens and Anthony Tucker have been outstanding thus far, but we'll see how they bounce back from their first loss with a game against Kansas State on Saturday.
Boston College, on the other hand, is 4-2 with losses to Purdue and Saint Louis. While the Purdue loss is understandable, the Saint Louis loss hurt them. They did a nice job bouncing back though, beating UAB.
I think that the Hawkeyes have the potential to be a great team in a few years, but I really question this young team's ability to bounce back after a loss.
Prediction: Boston College 63, Iowa 61
Wake Forest vs. Indiana
While Wake Forest is a good team, Indiana has dropped below that after being blown out by Notre Dame and St. Joseph's, barely getting by Chaminade, and needing overtime to beat IUPUI. Tom Crean must be regretting leaving Marquette right now after a bad start and all of the probation issues he is dealing with at his new program.
Wake Forest comes into this game at number 19 in the country. They have rolled to five straight wins to start the season and I really don't see why they won't easily get to number six.
Prediction: Wake Forest 86, Indiana 63
Maryland vs. Michigan
This one should be a very interesting match-up. Both are 4-1 and both have major upsets under their belt. Michigan beat UCLA while Maryland beat Michigan State. Both teams could be sleepers in their conferences this year and I think that this will be a much more important game than people think because both teams probably will be in the NCAA Tournament come March.
Prediction: Michigan 70, Maryland 67
Florida State vs. Northwestern
This will probably be one of the worst games in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Florida State is 6-0 with no impressive wins under their belt and Northwestern, at 3-1, is, well, Northwestern. Even though Florida State isn't that good of a team, unless the Wildcats surprise us even more than their football team did, the Seminoles should come away with an easy win.
Prediction: Florida State 77, Northwestern 59
Georgia Tech vs. Penn State
In another one of the less intriguing games of the challenge, Penn State comes in with no impressive wins and a loss to Rhode Island. Georgia Tech comes in 4-0 with, i know I sound like a broken record, no impressive wins. Winning this game really won't legitimatize the Yellow Jackets though, considering Penn State is less than impressive.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 71, Penn State 61
North Carolina vs. Michigan State
Finally, we get to the big game of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. North Carolina comes into this game undefeated and the top-ranked team in the country, while Michigan State comes in at number five in the country at 4-1, with a loss to UNC's ACC counterpart, Maryland.
North Carolina is an outstanding team. Led by forward Tyler Hansbrough, this squad is as close to unbeatable as you can get. Unlike many of their top ten counterparts, the Tar Heels have some very impressive wins under their belt. They blew out Kentucky, Oregon, and eighth ranked Notre Dame to win the Maui Invitational.
Meanwhile, Michigan State is trying to recuperate after suffering their first defeat to Maryland. Despite their loss, Michigan State should bounce back well and have an easy time winning the Big Ten.
While Michigan State is a very good basketball team, I don't see them winning. Mainly I don't see North Carolina losing at all this year. They may be one of the best all around teams ever in college basketball.
Prediction: North Carolina 88, Michigan State 76
Final Record: ACC 8, Big Ten 3