The ACC/Big Ten Challenge kicks off on Tuesday, and things are not looking great for the ACC.
Virginia and Boston College are each playing with a critical player either absent or injured, and neither team can afford to be without them.
|7:15||ESPNU||Virginia Tech||Iowa||Virginia Tech|
|9:15||ESPNU||Wake Forest||Nebraska||Wake Forest|
|7:30||ESPN||Miami||Michigan State||Michigan State|
|9:15||ESPNU||BC||Penn State||Penn State|
Miami's early schedule has seen some landmines and State is significantly underperforming. That said, it's prediction time. So here goes:
Florida State always starts slow, but so do Tubby Smith teams. And we like FSU's defense and athleticism a lot. So we'll take FSU.
Virginia Tech is thin but playing surprisingly well. Iowa has been lousy for several years. This year? They're 5-1 but Wichita is not necessarily imposing and the wins were over mediocre teams and not all convincing. So we'll stick with the Hokies here.
State has really been playing poorly since the OK State game and has lost a lot of respect. Michigan is never easy - or we should say a John Beilein team is never easy. They're very elaborate and when the offense works, it's devastating. Probably a bad matchup for State; we'll take Michigan.
Maryland is vastly more talented than Northwestern, but the Wildcats are masters of Pete Carrill's Princeton offense and won't easily be run. Unless Maryland catches a big case of stupid, not uncommon there lately, they should win. No conference pride here. Pity.
We don't really see UNC beating Indiana though they'll likely be competitive. They don't have an easy answer for Cody Zeller.
On Wednesday night, we don't see any way for Virginia to beat Wisconsin. They can play slow; Wisconsin likes that just fine. Badgers should prevail.
Like Clemson, Purdue is in a rebuilding mode, but their preferred frantic mode won't cut it with Clemson, who prefers to grind it out. We'll take the Tigers here.
Georgia Tech is improving rapidly and a win over Illinois would be great, but we just don't see it. Not yet anyway.
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Who are the geniuses who matched Miami with Michigan State? This is likely to be the biggest differential. Ugh. If we were betting, we'd start here. Just can't see it for Miami.
If Ryan Anderson can be a factor, we'll take BC. But he's still suffering from his ankle injury.
Penn State's star player, Tim Frazier has it worse though: he blew out his Achilles tendon against Akron in the Puerto Rico Tipoff. Tough one, but we'll go with Penn State - unless Anderson is effective.
And finally, as we've said before, we don't bet against Duke (and don't recommend it generally). Duke is playing very well and with a lot of confidence, and of course it's at home. And we doubt they've forgotten last year's disaster at Ohio State.
By our count, that's a 6-6 split, but there are 4-5 games that should be absolute wins for the Big Ten. The ACC margin of error is much smaller.