The ACC-Big Ten Challenge has not been much of a challenge at all as the Atlantic Coast Conference has won ten of the eleven years since its inception in 1999. The only time the Big Ten conquered this match-up was last season; as the Midwest’s premiere conference won six of the eleven games including Wisconsin’s home upset of then sixth ranked Duke.
This week, the Big Ten should be the favorite. If they are able to once again take down the ACC, in the words of Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown in Major League, “that’s called a winning streak.” Here is a breakdown and predictions for the 2010 ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
By: David Kay
-Virginia (3-3) at Minnesota (6-0), Mon 6:00, ESPNU
The Gophs have already defeated five NCAA Tournament caliber teams including a first place finish at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. However, they are expected to be without starters Al Nolen and Rodney Williams who will both be sidelined with injuries. There is reportedly help on the way though as Devoe Joseph is rumored to return from suspension and can help fill the void left by Nolen.
Prediction: MN 74, VA 57
-Georgia Tech (4-2) at Northwestern (4-0), Tues 6:00, ESPN2
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a ten-point win against UTEP and an encouraging four-point loss to Syracuse. Their guard play is talented but rather inconsistent while forward Brian Oliver has played well averaging more than 21 points in G-Tech’s last three games. Northwestern had their first true test Sunday when they knocked off Creighton 65-52. John Shurna and Drew Crawford account for half of the ‘Cats scoring and will be put to the test Tuesday night.
Prediction: NW 83, GT 71
-Iowa (3-3) at Wake Forest (3-3), Tues 6:00, ESPNU
Both teams are young and undergoing re-building years which is why they have each suffered early season hiccups. The Demon Deacons have lost to Stetson, Winthrop, and were blown out at home by VCU. The Hawkeyes were the lowest ranked power conference school in my pre-season rankings and have already fallen to South Dakota State and Long Beach State. You could not pay me to watch this game.
Prediction: WF 84, IA 72
-Ohio State (5-0) at Florida State (5-1), Tues 6:30, ESPN
I really like this Ohio State team and their defensive effort has been extremely impressive as they have allowed 45 or less points in each of their last three games. The ‘Noles have a quick turnaround after falling to Florida on Sunday. If the Buckeyes can contain Chris Singleton who was just 2 of 12 shooting against the Gators, OSU should pick up the tough road win.
Prediction: OSU 66, FSU 59
-Michigan (3-2) at Clemson (5-1), Tues 8:00, ESPN2
The Wolverines are young this season as five freshmen see significant minutes including Tim Hardaway Jr. The Tigers only loss has been a one point defeat to a very good Old Dominion team as they have been getting things done on the defensive end. Clemson is very balanced on O’ as six players average between 9-14 points.
Prediction: CLEM 67, MICH 54
-North Carolina (3-2) at Illinois (6-1), Tues 8:30, ESPN
This Illini team has been very well balanced getting great guard play from Demetri McCamey, D.J. Richardson, and Brandon Paul. They will need the Mike’s (Tisdale and Davis) to play big since the Heels do not have a lot of muscle or depth up-front. UNC is coming off a terrible showing at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off but has the talent to pull off the upset. As we have learned with this group though, talent does not equal wins. I am interested to see Harrison Barnes and Jereme Richmond match-up against each other at the three.
Prediction: ILL 78, UNC 73
-N.C. State (4-1) at Wisconsin (4-2), Wed 6:15, ESPN2
The Badgers did not shoot the ball especially well in Orlando at the Old Spice Classic and face a very athletic Wolfpack team that does not shoot the ball well from distance either. Three of N.C. State’s four leading scorers are freshmen and they will be without bruiser Tracy Smith due to injury which does not bode well when visiting a tough environment like the Kohl Center.
Prediction: WIS: 61, NCS: 53
-Indiana (6-0) at Boston College (4-2), Wed 6:15, ESPNU
Indiana is a much improved squad this season but has played an incredibly weak schedule en route to their unbeaten record. B.C. is coming off an encouraging performance at the Old Spice Classic in which they beat Texas A&M and Cal, and lost to Wisconsin after leading at the half. I want to give the Eagles the edge but there is a tiny bit of me that is concerned about their legs since this will be their fourth game in seven days and they are not a very deep team. Plus, I need to pick one upset.
Prediction: IND 66, BC 62
-Purdue (5-1) at Virginia Tech (4-2), Wed 6:30, ESPN
This will be the deciding game in the challenge. The Boilermakers were upset by Richmond at the Chicago Invitational Tournament after scoring just 14 first half points while the Hokies fell to UNLV in the 76 Classic championship game. Purdue needs someone not named E’Twaun Moore or JaJuan Johnson step up while focusing their defensive effort on containing Malcolm Delaney, who can light it up from deep but also attack the basket.
Prediction: PUR 58, VT 57
-Maryland (5-2) at Penn State (5-1), Wed 8:15, ESPN2
Unless the Nittany Lions somehow figure out how to clone four Talor Battles and have two of them grow eight inches, Penn State really does not stand a chance.
Predictions: MARY: 72, PSU 53
-Michigan State (4-1) at Duke (6-0), Wed 8:30, ESPN
The Main Event! Sparty did not look sharp in Maui and the Blue Devils seem practically unbeatable at this point of the season. MSU has lost to UNC the past two years in the challenge and will not be intimidated playing at Cameron. There are a lot of intriguing match-ups: Lucas/Irving, Summers/Smith, Green/Singler and this could very well end up being an early look at the national title game. For now, Duke is just the better team.
Prediction: DUKE: 79, MSU 71
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 The Washington Times Communities. You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.