2012 Big Ten/ACC Challenge Preview and Predictions

big ten/acc challenge

The twelve-game Big Ten/ACC Challenge tips off tonight with the top four ranked teams in the nation; Duke, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio State all in action.  After losing the first ten challenges, the Big Ten looks for their fourth straight win in this battle of power conferences.  To be completely blunt; they should have zero problem doing so as the Big Ten has far more depth than the ACC.

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Big Ten/ACC Challenge Preview and Predictions

big ten/acc challenge

The twelve-game Big Ten/ACC Challenge tips off Tuesday night with the headliner being a battle of top three teams as #3 Duke visits #2 Ohio State.  After losing the first ten challenges, The Big Ten looks for their third straight win in this battle of power conferences.  To be completely blunt; they should have zero problem doing so as the Big Ten has far more depth then the ACC.

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#36 Illinois Fighting Illini: College Basketball 111 in 111

illini cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

“Addition by subtraction” might be the ideal phrase to apply to the Illinois Fighting Illini this season.  With four inconsistent seniors graduating and Jereme Richmond’s idiotic decision to enter the NBA Draft, Bruce Weber loses five of his top seven players from last season.  However, the Illini may actually be better off without them.

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Big Ten Looking To Repeat Against ACC In Annual Challenge

Tom Izzo Final Four

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

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College Hoops 101 (11/29/10)

UConn Maui Invitational

If you are unfamiliar with College Hoops 101, it is a weekly feature here at The Sports Bank that runs every Monday and breaks down everything you need to know going on in the world of college basketball.  I will look back at the previous week and peak ahead to some of the key match-ups in the next seven days.

By: David Kay
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Big Ten Power Rankings 12-10

nuladycats

By Paul M. Banks

1. Purdue (8-0)
Matt Painter has to be considered one of the top young coaches in the game today. Making the Gene Keady coaching tree looking even stronger. Here he is in his own words.

2. Michigan State (7-2)

What a uninspiring, ho-hum preconference season so far. The nice win over Gonzaga is cancelled out by their flat and unexciting wins over the small schools, and losses to UNC and UF. So far they remind me of a Jimmy Buffett concert, the actual product is over-hyped and substantially disappointing. Yet you must also admire how the brand and reputation is as powerful as an empire.

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How The Illini Got Their Groove Back in South Carolina

Illinois

Why You Should ALWAYS DVR Your Teams’ Games If You Won’t Be Home
By Paul Schmidt

Sometimes, life is more important than sports.  It’s a rare occurrance.  Even rarer in my life than for most people. But darnit, my wife and I had a gift certificate to a tequila bar/restaurant that was expiring soon…the Illinois-Clemson game of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge was just going to have to wait.

So I DVR’ed this evening’s game.  I attempted to not find out the results.  Somehow, I was actually successful at this, despite the fact this phenomena never happens. I turned the phone off during dinner.  I stayed away from the one TV in the place which happened to be showing the Illinois game.

I got home, turned the phone on, got the TV set up, and my phone was filled with texts and tweets.  I knew something had happened.

I quickly found out what — at least I thought I did.

Illinois quickly fell behind, by as much as 23 early in the second half. Silently, to myself, I swore I would never record another sporting event to watch later.  Stupid, terrible idea. If I was watching live, it’s easy to give up the game, but by recording it, I’ve devoted time and resources to the game — it’s like I’m forced to watch the whole game.

Here’s a sample of the texts I sent during the first half:

“Just started…Tisdale already has looked lost and committed a stupid foul…He’s like James Augustine and Nick Smith combined…”

“Eff me…three McCamey fouls with eight minutes to go in the first half??”

To Paul Banks: “Can I change my mind about writing something about this game?? This effin’ sucks…down 21 right now and not yet halftime??”

Banks’ response “trust me JUST KEEP WATCHING!”

“Oh good…now they are elbowing our players in the face and the announcers are defending them…”

“Luckily, I keep a loaded .357 Magnum right by my side while I watch my teams…I can feel the sweet, cold sleep of death if this gets any worse…”

And only one of those is made up.  I’ll let you decide which one.

But then, as you all know by now, the Illini came back. HARD. In a manner not seen in roughly 4 years.

The difference, statistically, was staggering. The Illini shot 60.7 percent from the field in the second half, which featured one of the quickest, most shocking 28-6 runs I’ve ever seen.

They shot 50 percent from three point range.

And most importantly, the Illini outscored Clemson by 22 points.

Was Demetri McCamey’s third foul the catalyst for Clemson to get going?  Was his return in the second half the catalyst for the Illini?

No is probably the answer to both questions.

Quite frankly, the second half of the game was just how good the Illini can be. The first half was just how bad.

Now they just need to put two good halves together, and they’ll have something.

To steal a phrase from my friend Mark, it would seem as though we all need to get ready for some “Bipolar Basketball.”

You have to admit, it’ll still make things fun.

Big Ten Power Rankings ACC Challenge Edition

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By Paul M. Banks

Feast Week saw numerous opponents feasting on the conference. The Big Ten’s top and middle proved to be nothing more than a soft underbelly during the multitude of holiday tournaments. But at least Purdue and Northwestern won their invitationals. The conference has a quick turnaround to win back respectability. The ACC Challenge is here, and this is THE year they FINALLY win it, right? right? Maybe not.

1. Purdue (5-0)

Only team among the three conference heavyweights with an unblemished record, and the win over Tennessee was certainly impressive, yes?


2. Ohio State (4-1)

What’s your over/under on Evan Turner triple doubles this season? This Buckeyes squad is looking similar the 1999 Final Four team.

3. Michigan State (4-1)

Of all the upsets to supposedly lesser teams, only MSU went out the next night and sent a message by “doin work” on their unfortunate opponent., Izzo’s team looked really pissed off as they took their frustrations out on UMass, 101-61.

4. Northwestern(5-1)

When Northwestern’s star forward Kevin Coble went down for the season with a foot injury, someone needed to step up. That someone is turning out to be two people: Juice Thompson and John Shurna. With Juice running the point, and Shurna scoring both inside and outside at will, this team certainly has “juice” (slang for power, respect, notoriety) now.

Here’s video of the Cats celebrating their first tournament title of any kind since 1993

5. Wisconsin (4-1)

Ok, so maybe that win over #22 at the time Maryland isn’t as impressive now as it seemed just a few short days ago

6. Minnesota (4-2)

The conference in general looked REALLY WEAK this week, as losses to mid-majors abounded; including the Gophers falling to Portland. Then the Gophs threw in a loss to high-major (Texas A&M) for good measure. However, the Butler did not do it on them, so the last week wasn’t a total disaster.


7. Michigan (3-2)

It was the Big Ten’s middle and high middle teams that suffered the most damage last week. Wolverines are the perfect example: they barely survived against Creighton and fell to Marquette and Alabama. Can you say over-rate-ed (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)

8. Illinois (4-2)

What on Earth happened? Las Vegas was more pleasant to the characters of the film “The Hangover” than it was to the Illini. But what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas…especially when you suffer back-to-back upsets at the hands of Bradley and Utah.

9. Penn State (5-2)
Can I just call this team the “Penn State Talor Battles?” You know just like how last year referred to the Cleveland Cavliers as the “Cleveland LeBrons”

10. Indiana (3-3)

Finally ended three game losing streak. Maurice Creek is coming along nicely.

11. Iowa (2-4)

At least their loss to Texas was by less than 30.

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College Hoops 101

old spice swagger

By: David Kay

There is nothing quite like walking into a neighborhood watering hole located in a strip mall at 11:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving to watch college basketball and down a couple Bloody Mary’s and Old Styles before it is even one o’clock.  That is the joy that Feast Week brought me.

Non-stop college hoops last week combined with a five-day vacation allowed me to spend a lot of quality time in front of the boob tube.  There were plenty of entertaining games, interesting storylines, and upsets galore.  It’s all here in College Hoops 101.

Rewind

-Since I am a glass half-full kind of guy, let me start by saying this; prior to the Old Spice Classic, if you would have told me that Marquette was going to finish 2-1 in the tournament, I would have taken it in a second.  With that said, it is still massively disappointing that after holding a 17-point second half lead, MU let is slip away in their Championship game loss to Florida State.  But we did learn a lot about this Marquette team.  They are gritty, play hard, get after it on the defensive end, and despite being grossly under-sized are going to scrap to stay in every game.  Translation: They have sucked me in and I am a believer that this team could be competitive in the Big East.  I also rescind my comment from a week ago that they will only win four games in conference play.

-Remember all that talk about the Big Ten being the toughest, deepest conference in college basketball this year?  Maybe not.  Friday was a rough one for the Big Ten as four ranked teams lost; Michigan State to Florida, Michigan to Marquette, Minnesota to Portland, and Illinois to Utah.  Follow that up with the Illini losing to Bradley on Saturday and the Gophers and Wolverines falling on Sunday, and the Big Ten took a big hit on the national scene.  Northwestern was a saving grace though as they upset Notre Dame and beat a talented Iowa State squad in the Chicago Invitational Challenge (check out Paul M. Banks coverage of Northwestern’s winning the challenge.)

-UCLA… OUCH!  Playing in Anaheim at the 76 Challenge, the Bruins finished in eighth place out of eight teams.  They were embarrassed in their first round game losing by 27 to Portland.  Then UCLA was edged by Butler in a consolation round game and then fell to Long Beach State by 11 in the 7th place game.  The Bruins are now 2-4 on the year and it doesn’t get any easier with top-ranked Kansas coming to town this weekend.

-The Pac-10 is not the best college basketball conference on the west coast this year.  The West Coast Conference is owning the Pac-10.  Loyola Marymount won at USC.  Portland beat Oregon and then smacked UCLA around like Ike slapped Tina.  San Diego beat Stanford earlier this year by 13 and of course there is Gonzaga who beat Wisconsin and Cincinnati to win the Maui Invite.  The Pac-10 might only get two teams in the tourney.

-Play of the week goes to Alabama’s JaMychal Green who secured his team’s victory against Michigan in the 3rd place game of the Old Spice Classic.  (Fast forward to the end of the game.  Sorry, it was the only clip I could find.)


Fast Forward

-This is supposed to be the year the Big Ten claims the Big Ten/ACC Challenge crown having lost all ten match-ups versus Dickie V’s favorite conference.  Two games to keep an eye on including the re-match of last year’s NCAA title game:
Michigan St. at North Carolina: Tuesday 8:00, ESPN
Duke at Wisconsin: Wednesday 8:15, ESPN

-North Carolina at Kentucky: Saturday 11:30, CBS
The Heels follow up their game with the Spartans by heading to Lexington.  Both teams are extremely talented but still young and trying to find a groove.  Expect a lot of offense in this one.

-Miami (FL) at Boston College, Sunday 2:00, FSN
Isn’t it way too early for the first conference game to be played?

The Drive
Games watched through 11/29: 53

Games watched this past week (home teams in CAPS): 20

#10 Tennessee 57, DePaul 53
A year ago, the Blue Demons went oh-for in Big East play.  This year, they hang with Tennessee and are 3-1 so far.  DePaul will be no pushover in conference play.

Cincinnati 67, Vanderbilt 58

Finally Jay Bilas is on color for a game I watch.  Cincy was very active on the defensive end but I was just happy to here Bilas’ sweet voice calling a game.  (Now is about the time Bilas files a restraining order against me.)

#6 Purdue 73, #9 Tennessee 72

Very entertaining game.  Both teams played really hard and got after it on both ends of the floor and should be major factors this season nationally.

Wisconsin 65, Arizona 61
Dear officials, way to ruin what should have been a very intriguing match-up by calling 54 fouls resulting in 66 free throw attempts.  The only thing we learned from this game is that ‘Zona freshman Derrick Williams has stud potential.

#3 Texas 85, Iowa 60
Tied at the break, the ‘Horns out-scored the Hawkeyes 47-22 in second half.  Remember the name Jordan Hamilton, a freshman swing player on Texas.  He could be special in a year or two.

Arizona 91, Colorado 87 OT
Very entertaining game to watch.  Nic Wise came up huge for ‘Zona down the stretch while the Buffs proved they are ready to make some noise in the Big 12.

MARQUETTE 93, South Dakota 68
I am really okay with teams wanting to zone MU this season.  They have shooters who can knock down three’s and Lazar Hayward can set up shot in the middle of the zone.

Gonzaga 74, Wisconsin 61
Despite welcoming ten new players, the Zags are still one of the top mid-majors in the country and can hang with any team from the power six conferences.  Of course it also helps that the Badgers were 5-26 from three in this game.

#3 Texas 78, Pitt 62
The ‘Horns are apparently a second half team.  They were tied with Iowa at the half and then trailed Pitt at the break before turning it on for the final twenty minutes.

Wisconsin 78, #21 Maryland 69

I kept getting interrupted and watched this game over three different sit-downs, so I didn’t get a feel for it at all.

Vanderbilt 84, Arizona 72
An off-night for Nic Wise = ‘Zona loss.

Gonzaga 61, Cincinnati 59 OT
Zags win the Maui Invite and show that despite being without four of their top players from a year ago, they are still one of the best mid-major programs in the country.

#15 Michigan 83, Creighton 76 OT

I am still trying to figure out if Michigan did not impress me or if Creighton really impressed me.  Manny Harris was one rebound shy of a triple-double.

Marquette 71, Xavier 61

Not gonna lie, I was already chalking this one up in the loss column for Marquette.  Thankfully, Xavier went on a late five-and-a-half minute dry spell without a field goal as MU went on a 16-2 run.  Big confidence building win.

#16 Minnesota 82, #10 Butler 73
There were 81 free throws attempted in this game.

Marquette 79, #15 Michigan 65
Nothing like going to the bar at 11:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, order a couple Bloody Mary’s and Old Styles, and watch your team knock off a ranked team.  That’s called a good start to the day.

Florida State 60, Alabama 51
With this win, FSU advances to meet Marquette in the Old Spice Classic Championship.  The ‘Noles are 7-1, 6-9, 6-8 in their frontcourt.  I have no idea how MU can guard them.

#7 Duke 68, #13 UConn 59

Neither team played very well in what was pretty much a letdown game to watch.

Florida State 58, Marquette 57

Read the Rewind section of this article for more on this game.

#8 West Virginia 84, Portland 66
Portland’s Cinderella-run in the 76 Classic comes to an end at the hands of a Mountaineer team that is as good as advertised.