Preview and prediction for every ACC/B1G Challenge game
Since 2011, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge has been a toss-up, with the B1G taking 3 overall victories, the ACC 2 and there being 3 ties.
The Big Ten, which trails the series (started in 1999) 12-6-3, is looking for its second straight after winning 8 of 14 games last year. It won’t take 8 victories to win it this season, as 2 games (Louisville at Wisconsin and NC State at Michigan) were scratched due to COVID.
What are the Big Ten’s chances? Let’s take a look at the matchups and make some predictions:
Purdue at Miami
5 p.m. Tuesday
(All times ET)
After surviving an upset scare Friday night against Valparaiso, the youthful Boilermakers fly to Miami for their first true road game of the season. Purdue (3-1) got a big boost Monday when Matt Painter announced that junior guard Eric Hunter Jr., would be available for the first time this season, giving the Boilermakers a much-needed veteran presence in the backcourt. But Purdue will still be without freshman Jaden Ivey, who has missed the last 3 games with a bad ankle. But the biggest injury might be to Miami guard Chris Lykes. The diminutive 5-7 senior rolled his left ankle in the 2-0 Hurricanes’ win over Stetson on Friday, forcing him to leave the game. His status is unknown. The matchup is this: Purdue’s bigs, with 7-4 Zach Edey and 6-11 Trevion Williams vs. Lykes and the athletic, long Miami guards.
Prediction: Miami 72, Purdue 69
Boston College at Minnesota
7 p.m. Tuesday
Minnesota’s homestand continues, as the Gophers will play each of their nonconference games in Williams Arena. It’s been a positive start for the 4-0 Gophers, with Marcus Carr averaging more than 25 points per game. He hit the game-winning 3 vs. Loyola Marymount a week ago, in a rare back-to-back vs. the same opponent. It’s not been as smooth for Boston College, which got mopped by Florida on Thursday at Mohegan Sun to drop to 1-3 and to lead some observers to question BC’s effort and want-to.
Prediction: Minnesota 82, Boston College 73
No. 16 North Carolina at No. 3 Iowa
7:30 p.m. Tuesday
North Carolina has played a couple of close games in a row, beating Stanford by 4 in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational (in Ashville) then losing by 2 to then-No. 17 Texas in the final. Iowa, meanwhile, is smoking everybody, winning its 3 games by an average of 32.7 points per game. Not that the Hawkeyes have played anyone near the level of UNC, however. The 3-1 Tar Heels are allowing only 60 points per game, with opponents shooting only 37% from the floor. Iowa’s numbers: 99.7 points per game, while shooting better than 50%. What gives?
Prediction: Iowa 79, North Carolina 77
No. 22 Ohio State at Notre Dame
7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Ohio State could make more believers out of its quick start to the season — 3-0, with a clamp-down defense that isn’t allowing many open looks — if it can get by Notre Dame in a more real-feel test tonight. The Fighting Irish are 1-1, after a loss at Michigan State (in a game they lost by 10 but trailed by as many as 28) and escaped Detroit-Mercy by pulling ahead in the final 5 minutes. The Buckeyes are deep, with 10 in the rotation, while the Irish use their 5 starters more than 30 minutes each. OSU’s multitude of weapons are likely too much.
Prediction: Ohio State 66, Notre Dame 64
Penn State at No. 15 Virginia Tech
9 p.m. Tuesday
The Nittany Lions are steaming after dropping an overtime game against Seton Hall that they led by 19 in the first half then by 8 with less than 2 minutes to go. Will the mistakes that plagued 2-1 Penn State — lackadaisical defense, poor shooting decisions and turnovers — carry over to 4-0 Virginia Tech? The guard-oriented Nittany Lions, who have only one player taller than 6-6 in their rotation, will have to figure out how to deal with 6-9 Hokie forward Keve Aluma, who is averaging nearly 18 points per game while shooting better than 60%.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 89, Penn State 80
No. 6 Illinois at No. 10 Duke
9:30 p.m. Tuesday
Illinois ran into a buzzsaw in the 2nd half of its last outing, as No. 2 Baylor ran away from the Illini in a 13-point win. Illinois’ reward? Sitting around for nearly a week — Saturday’s UT-Martin game was canceled — before its Cameron Indoor date with Duke. This will be an incredible matchup of frontcourts, with Illini’s Kofi Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili against Duke’s Matthew Hurt and Jalen Johnson. Question: Will Illinois starter Da’Monte Williams, who is only 6-3, start the game matched up against one of the Blue Devil forwards? Whichever team blinked first might have the edge.
Prediction: Duke 76, Illinois 72
Syracuse at No. 21 Rutgers
9:30 p.m. Tuesday
It seems unlikely that Rutgers will be able to shoot its way to a victory against the Syracuse matchup zone. Why? Despite the 3-0 start, the Scarlet Knight have hit only 12 total 3-pointers, making them at only a 29.3% clip. But the Knights can get to the basket, mainly behind the penetration abilities of Ron Harper Jr. and Jacob Young. Geo Baker is likely out with a badly turned ankle, which leaves Rutgers vulnerable at the point and in its depth. The Orange should be without Buddy Boeheim, last season’s leading scorer, who remains sidelined in quarantine.
Prediction: Rutgers 71, Syracuse 69
Maryland at Clemson
5 p.m. Wednesday
Maryland is averaging more than 8 3-pointers per game during its 4-0 start, bolstered by solid starts to the season by guards Eric Ayala and Hakim Hart. But in Clemson, the Terrapins will be facing their most physical and stingiest opponent, with the Tigers allowing only 50 points per game in their 3-0 start. They’ve given up only 14 3-pointers, total, while holding opponents to only 35% shooting. This could easily turn into a battle of tempos, with the Turtles wanting to run and the Tigers wanting to slow it down.
Prediction: Clemson 64, Maryland 61
Georgia Tech at Nebraska
7:15 p.m. Wednesday
Georgia Tech scored a huge upset of then-No. 20 Kentucky on Sunday, smoking the Wildcats 79-62 in downtown Atlanta. It marked a reversal for the Yellow Jackets, which had lost its first 2 games to Mercer and Georgia Tech. Which GT team will face Nebraska? The Cornhuskers are 3-1 but had their game Sunday vs. Florida A&M canceled due to COVID issues in the Rattlers’ program. Not sure much can be taken by Nebraska’s 3-1 start; it was 4-3 last season at this time, before being whooped at Ga. Tech, then only winning 3 more games.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 75, Nebraska 63
No. 4 Michigan State at No. 18 Virginia
9:15 p.m. Wednesday
The last time the Hauser brothers shared an NCAA basketball court, it was 2 years ago when they were teammates at Marquette. Now, they’ll be opponents, as Michigan State forward Joey Hauser takes on older brother, Sam, at Virginia. Sam Hauser is the Cavaliers’ leading scorer, averaging 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while Joey leads Michigan State, averaging 14 points and 10 boards. If they cancel each other out, perhaps it’s the 5-0 Spartans who have more offensive weapons, with 8 players averaging 5 points or more.
Prediction: Michigan State 74, Virginia 67
Indiana at No. 20 Florida State
9:15 p.m. Wednesday
The start of the season has been a bit of a scheduling mess for Florida State, which has had 2 games rescheduled. As a result, the Seminoles have played only 1 game, a victory over North Florida. The Hoosiers might face a difficult matchup in 7-1 center Balsa Koprivica, who had 13 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks. How will the Hoosiers match up, especially if big man Joey Brunk is still sidelined? IU has only one player, star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, taller than 6-8.
Prediction: Florida State 73, Indiana 72
Pittsburgh at Northwestern
9:15 p.m. Wednesday
Two teams projected to finish near the bottom of their respective leagues are one of the last games on this year’s Challenge. Northwestern is 2-0 but the wins have been against two of the worst teams in Division-I, as the Wildcats scored a combined 203 points in Ws over Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Chicago State. Pitt was embarrassed by St. Francis in the opener, the Red Flash’s first win in the rivalry in 30 games. But the Panthers have responded with back-to-back wins. Can NU continue the offense against an ACC opponent, even a bad one?
Prediction: Pittsburgh 72, Northwestern 65
No. 25 Louisville at No. 13 Wisconsin (canceled)
This is unfortunate. Thursday, Louisville AD Vince Tyra announced the Cardinals were suspending activities due to a positive COVID-19 test and contact tracing. As of Monday, Wisconsin already had a new opponent lined up, as it was finalizing a contract to bring in Rhode Island on Wednesday.
NC State at Michigan (postponed)
In the late afternoon Monday, Michigan announced that its home game vs. NC State had been postponed due to COVID concerns within the Wolfpack program. In the statement, the schools said they’d pursue a future rescheduling opportunity. Assuming the Wolverines don’t find an immediate replacement for the open date, their next game is the start of Big Ten play vs. Penn State on Sunday.