Big Ten Draw in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

by Nelly's Sports

Big Ten Draw in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge 

After the chaos of the Thanksgiving week tournaments, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge provides compelling matchups next week in this year’s 14-game draw. A reliable event of interest that often signals the start of the college basketball season in earnest, here is a quick look at this season’s pairings from the Big Ten perspective for games Monday, Nov. 29 to Wednesday, Dec. 1. 

Monday

Iowa at Virginia: Iowa has quietly started the season 5-0 after being in the headlines a lot last season in an uneven 22-9 season that ended abruptly with a Round of 32 blowout loss to Oregon as a #2 seed. Sophomore Keegan Murray leads this year’s team and Iowa remains one of the highest scoring teams in the nation. This will be a big test however as the Hawkeyes have had a very light early-season schedule and are yet to play a road game. The line on this game will likely be near-even as Iowa’s offense will face the usually elite Virginia defense.  CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 50%

Notre Dame at Illinois: Illinois has already lost twice this season while the roster has been in flux in several games with a few injuries and the suspension for the first three games for Kofi Cockburn. The Illini entered the NCAA Tournament as one of the overall favorites last March but lost in the Round of 32 for a disappointing finish. Ayo Dosunmu is in the NBA now but there is still a strong roster in place for Brad Underwood. Turnovers and free throw shooting have been problem spots for Illinois so far this season as the defense has held up its end but the offense has been hard to count on. Losses away from home to Marquette and Cincinnati are not overly damaging but the Illini are a risk to continue to be overvalued: CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 75%

Tuesday

Clemson at Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights were a Round of 32 NCAA Tournament team last year just like Iowa and Illinois but Rutgers will have a hard time living down the collapse against Houston, the team that eventually made the Final Four after delivering a great comeback to beat the Knights. Rob Harper and Geo Baker are familiar leaders for Rutgers this season but the 3-2 start has offered plenty of concern, with losses to DePaul and Lafayette. Rutgers has shot below 25 percent from 3-point range so far this season as the offense has really struggled. Clemson has had some up-and-downs as well but the losses came in close games to much better teams than Rutgers lost to. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 45%

Duke at Ohio State: Ohio State may have a bit of a break in this scheduling as Duke will be coming off Friday’s huge national game with Gonzaga in Las Vegas before traveling to Columbus. Ohio State was upset in the Round of 64 as a #2 seed in one of many failures for the conference last March. The Buckeyes have EJ Liddell back and he has been among the most productive players in the nation so far. Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler also joins the starting five along with freshman Malaki Branham as the Buckeyes have some questions to answer still this season. Ohio State is 4-2 with a nice win over Seton Hall but two narrow losses away from home to top 40 caliber teams. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 45%

Florida State at Purdue: Purdue has started the season 5-0 with notable wins over North Carolina and Villanova in close games in Connecticut in the Hall of Fame Classic. The offense has tremendous numbers this season including scoring at least 80 points in every game and all five wins have been top 200 foes. The depth and size for Purdue will attract some attention for the Boilermakers to be among the Big Ten favorites this season. Purdue won’t draw a top ACC contender in this pairing but Florida State beat Purdue two years ago in non-conference play and the Boilermakers lost to Miami in this event last season. Florida State will be one of the few teams with a size edge against Purdue and the 5-1 start has featured good defensive numbers so far. RayQuan Evans missed the last game for Florida State and will impact the number on this game. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 80%

Minnesota at Pittsburgh: The Gophers are quietly 5-0 under new head coach Ben Johnson. The schedule has not been difficult with no top 100 results but that won’t change this week drawing a Pitt squad sitting towards the bottom of the ACC. This is almost a completely different team from last season as Eric Curry is the long holdover in the starting lineup as Johnson has filled the roster with transfers from all over the country. The offensive efficiency has not been as strong as last season’s team so far but the defense has made some noise with most strong performances. 5-0 could swing the other quickly for this group with Mississippi State next weekend plus starting the Big Ten season with Michigan State and Michigan in the first two games. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 55%

Indiana at Syracuse: In what was a great season for the Big Ten last year outside of the NCAA Tournament results, Indiana struggled falling far from its typical place as one of the prominent programs in the conference. Archie Miller’s fifth season in Bloomington should draw elevated expectations and this was a competitive game that had three overtime losses last season, including losing to Florida State on the road in this event. ACC transfer Xavier Johnson is now the leader of this team as this is a rather inexperienced group but the Hoosiers have started the season 5-0 including a win over St. John’s. This game is going to be the first road game of the season however. Syracuse has drawn a tough path and has two losses already but this has been an excellent shooting team and is always a challenge to play. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 50%

Northwestern at Wake Forest: The Wildcats were 9-15 last season for Chris Collins and only returns two starters with a couple of transfers out of Evanston. So far so good for the Wildcats however with a 5-1 start and the only loss coming in a close game with Providence away from home. Heading to Wake Forest is a manageable draw for the Wildcats as Wake Forest has started 5-0 but through an incredibly weak schedule under Steve Forbes. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 55%

Wednesday

Wisconsin at Georgia Tech: The Badgers had a huge Thanksgiving week, delivering three excellent wins to win the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas, including the notable upset over Houston. Johnny Davis had a star-making tournament and he missed the only loss for Wisconsin, a five-point home defeat to Providence. As usual the defense has been excellent and Wisconsin takes good care of the ball, while being an exceptional free throw shooting team so far this season. Georgia Tech has won five straight since losing the season opener but none of the wins offer great substance with the only top 200 win coming against Georgia. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 55%

Louisville at Michigan State: The Spartans have had five top 100 games already as while the 5-2 record has been a slight disappointment, the defeats have come against Kansas and Baylor, elite national title contenders. Wins over Loyola-Chicago and Connecticut are quality results and the Spartans have featured a top tier defense so far this season. 3-point shooting has been a problem as have turnovers for this veteran roster joined by freshman Max Christie. Louisville had a nice win over Mississippi State on Thanksgiving and this will be a second straight Big Ten foe after facing Maryland over the weekend.  CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 75%

Miami at Penn State: Penn State has its first big test coming up facing LSU before this game as the Nittany Lions lost to Massachusetts in its only noteworthy early season game. Micah Shrewsberry is the team’s new coach coming from Purdue and with NBA experience as an assistant with the Celtics for several years. The roster from last season mostly was retained as Penn State is one of the most experienced teams in the nation filled with upperclassmen. Miami has had mixed results and is a bit of a wild card at this point and 3-point shooting has been a problem sot on both sides of the ball. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 65%

Michigan at North Carolina: The Wolverines have two losses already and only one top 100 win as it has been a shaky start for the Wolverines against very high expectations. Michigan has top 15 efficiency numbers on both sides of the ball as the losses were puzzling. 3-point shooting and free throw shooting have been poor so far for Michigan and turnovers have been an issue as newcomers Caleb Houstan and DeVante’ Jones try to fit into the lineup. North Carolina lacks any win of substance but the Tar Heels played Purdue very tough in a non-conference loss. Hubert Davis leads the Tar Heels now and his players are finding good looks with strong shooting rates so far. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 65%

Nebraska at NC State: Fred Hoiberg’s first two seasons in Lincoln have not been successful but this year’s team is already halfway to last season’s win count. None of those wins were top 200 results and Nebraska has a loss outside the top 200. 3-point shooting has been very poor for the Huskers so far but the rest of the offensive numbers offer some promise with three newcomers joining the starting five this season. There is good size on this team but it is a young group without much experience playing together. NC State didn’t make the NCAA Tournament last season but should be a threat this season. The only loss came in a close game vs. Oklahoma State as this could be an overlooked team in the ACC for Kevin Keatts. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 30%

Virginia Tech at Maryland: Mark Turgeon’s team has back-to-back ACC draws as this game comes after facing Louisville in the Bahamas. Maryland has struggled with its outside shooting through a rather easy non-conference path but this is a top 50 team nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency. The loss came at home against George Mason and this will be a difficult draw even with home court advantage. Mike Young’s Virginia Tech team is a tough matchup and the 3-point shooting numbers on both sides of the ball sharply favor the Hokies. The Hokies are coming off tournament play in Brooklyn for a taxing week on the road to help Maryland’s cause. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 50%

The Big Ten should be favored in eight of 14 games in this event and with a few other toss-up games the chances for the conference to win the series is high. The Big Ten has won the even the past two seasons going 7-5 last year and 8-6 in 2019 but the ACC has had the overall edge since the event started in 1999. The Big Ten has seen a few of its high profile teams disappoint so far but the matchups appear to favor the Big Ten this week. 

 
 

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