The two-day Big Ten/ACC Challenge tips off Tuesday evening. With Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame joining the ACC, that conference is trying to stake its claim as the best in the country. Last year, the challenge finished in a 6-6 tie but here are my predictions for the 2013 Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Indiana at Syracuse, 6:15, ESPN
Cuse is coming off a Maui Invitational Championship and as is the case anytime a team faces the Orange; how will the Hoosiers handle the 2-3 zone? IU is not a great three-point shooting team as they are only connecting on 28% of their triple tries. As a result, Indiana must penetrate the zone with their dribble drive game or get out in transition as much as possible.
For Syracuse, C.J. Fair has been playing at an All-American level but Jim Boeheim’s young backcourt of Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney has quickly taken over their roles in the starting line-up. Jerami Grant is also providing a huge spark off the bench averaging more than 14 points per game. With this game being played at the Carrier Dome, ‘Cuse gets the advantage.
Prediction: Syracuse 65, Indiana 59
Illinois a Georgia Tech, 6:15, ESPN2
Despite all the new faces on their roster, the Illini have gotten off to a quick 7-0 start but their only true test came on the road against a down UNLV team. The Yellow Jackets have been challenged in their non-conference schedule which has resulted in losses to Dayton, Ole Miss, and St. John’s. Georgia Tech should has the edge inside with more big bodies and physicality down low so that should help them eek out the victory.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 68, Illinois 66
Penn State at Pittsburgh, 6:30, ESPNU
With wins against La Salle and St. John’s, the Nittany Lions have gotten off to a bit of a surprising start. Their backcourt of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill is underrated on the national stage and is combining to average 38 points and more than 10 assists and 11 rebounds per game. With that being said, Pitt is a perfect 7-0 with an average margin of victory at 23-plus points. The Panthers physicality and aggressiveness on the defensive end will be too much for Penn State to handle.
Prediction: Pitt 74, Penn State 57
Michigan at Duke, 8:15, ESPN
Both the Wolverines and Blue Devils have suffered two early season losses. Newcomers Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood have been phenomenal for Duke but their lack of size inside has been an Achilles Heel. The Wolverines might be without sharpshooter Nik Stauskas who sat out Michigan’s game this past weekend and his status for Tuesday night is uncertain. Without him, the Wolverines need to establish Mitch McGary down low and must get more out of Glenn Robinson III who has been underwhelming so far.
Prediction: Duke 83, Michigan 73
Notre Dame at Iowa, 8:15, ESPN2
The Hawkeyes are coming off a loss to Villanova in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. They are one of the deepest teams in the country with nine guys averaging at least 5.9 points per game and as a whole, putting up 89 points a night. Minus their home loss to Indiana State, the Fighting Irish have done a good job of beating up on inferior teams. Their veteran backcourt of Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant lead the charge but I like Iowa’s depth and homecourt advantage in this one.
Prediction: Iowa 82, Notre Dame 76
Florida State at Minnesota, 8:30, ESPNU
Had it not been for an overtime loss against Michigan in Puerto Rico and a one-point loss at Florida, the Seminoles would be one of the major surprises of this early season. Their line-up features plenty of versatility and athleticism. Both teams have played more of an up-tempo style this season which was to be expected at Minnesota with Richard Pitino taking over. The Gophers have been very guard-reliant but the Noles have the talent capable of slowing down Minnesota and picking up the road victory.
Prediction: Florida State 74, Minnesota 70
Maryland at Ohio State, 6:00, ESPN
Playing in their final Big Ten/ACC Challenge as members of the ACC, the Terps head to Columbus to face a Buckeyes team that has been devastating opponents on the defensive end. Ohio State has held four of their six opponents to 52 points or less and defend the perimeter as good as any team in the country. I just don’t think Maryland has what it takes offensively to pull off the massive road upset.
Prediction: Ohio State 67, Maryland 58
Wisconsin at Virginia, 6:00, ESPN2
UVA went to Madison last year and picked up a key road win so the Badgers are looking for revenge this year. Usually this would be a “first to 55 wins” type of game but Wisconsin has been playing at a quicker pace this season so in a shocker, it will be UW’s opponents who will actually try to slow them down and control the tempo. I really like Bo Ryan’s team this year (like A LOT) but I’m giving the edge to Tony Bennett and his team’s physicality.
Prediction: Virginia 69, Wisconsin 66
Northwestern at N.C. State, 6:30, ESPNU
You know who is drastically flying under the radar this season: Wolfpack sophomore forward T.J. Warren who is averaging 22.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Northwestern’s senior guard Drew Crawford missed the Wildcats’ last game versus UCLA due to back spasms and without him, Chris Collins’ team truly doesn’t stand a chance.
Prediction: N.C. State 86, Northwestern 70
North Carolina at Michigan State, 8:00, ESPN
UNC has looked off this season with P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald still sitting out. They lost at home to Belmont and on the road at UAB, yet were somehow able to knock off Louisville. Sparty has dealt with some player issues of their own, having three starters being reprimanded for academic issues and Gary Harris missing the last game due to an ankle injury. Harris is expected to play Wednesday night and the number one team in the country should avoid any upset bid.
Prediction: Michigan State 81, North Carolina 67
Boston College at Purdue, 8:00, ESPN2
BC was a sexy sleeper pick heading into this season but have been rather disappointing with their 3-4 record. The key for the Boilermakers is limiting the Eagles’ dynamic duo of Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson who are averaging more than half of Boston College’s scoring. Meanwhile, Purdue hasn’t done anything early in this season to wow anyone but the game is in West Lafayette so…
Prediction: Purdue 78, Boston College 72
Miami FL at Nebraska, 8:30, ESPNU
Will anybody outside Miami and Nebraska be watching this game? Will people in Miami and Nebraska even be watching this game? The Hurricanes did pick up a solid victory against Arizona State in the fifth place game of the Wooden Legacy which could mean their new roster is starting figure things out. Then again, I LOVE college basketball and you couldn’t pay me $100 to watch this game so who cares?
Prediction: Miami FL 64, Nebraska 63
FINAL TALLY: ACC 8, BIG TEN 4
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks