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ACC-Big Ten Rumble Almost Here

It should be close this year with a slight edge to the ACC.

John Beilein brings his dangerous Michigan squad, and perhaps some Maalox, to Cameron on Tuesday for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
John Beilein brings his dangerous Michigan squad, and perhaps some Maalox, to Cameron on Tuesday for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the various Thanksgiving tournaments are out of the way, it's time to start looking at the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Only this year it's the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Being homers, we'll call it what we like.

Tuesday's Games
Indiana at Syracuse 7:15 p.m. (ESPN) Big Ten
Illinois at Georgia Tech 7:15 p.m. (ESPN2) ACC
Penn State at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU) ACC
Michigan at Duke 9:15 p.m. (ESPN) ACC
Notre Dame at Iowa 9:15 p.m. (ESPN2) Big Ten
Florida State at Minnesota 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU) ACC
Wednesday's Games
Maryland at Ohio State 7:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2) Big Ten
Wisconsin at Virginia 7:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2) ACC
Northwestern at North Carolina State 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU) ACC
North Carolina at Michigan State 9:00 p.m. (ESPN) Big Ten
Boston College at Purdue 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2) Big Ten
Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU) Big Ten

On to the games and predictions: Indiana-Syracuse is going to be close, but it will be Dome on the Range for the 'Cuse, so no excuses: Syracuse should win. But Indiana will.

On the surface, 7-0 Illinois should be favored. But look at the 7 and who's there? Vegas, a two-point win. Valparaiso, an eight point win. Last time out, IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) was just a four-point win.

On the other hand, Tech has been weak of late. Their schedule is unquestionably tougher though, with games (and losses) to Dayton, Ole Miss and St. John's.

Based on that, we'll go with Tech. The Yellow Jackets are a bit more tested and their losses are to quality teams.

Penn State may be improving, but we're not sure the team is up for Pitt. So we'll take Pitt here, based on talent level, expectations and coaching.

We don't pick against Duke, so we'll take Duke at home.

Iowa is improving and may be ready for a breakthrough season. Notre Dame's formula gets them into the tournament but rarely much more than a cup of coffee there. We'll go with the Hawkeyes here.

Florida State and Minnesota is a really, really interesting game. Young Pitino - Little Ricky? - is off to a solid start in Lower Canada. Minnesota's losses were to Syracuse and Arkansas and his running/pressing style seems to be taking hold.

On the other hand, Leonard Hamilton's team seems to have recovered from last year's dip. The Seminoles dominated VCU and barely lost to Michigan (OT) and Florida. We just think FSU is better.

As for Wednesday, our feeling is ACC fans should just concede the Maryland-OSU game to the Big Ten no matter who wins. The Terps certainly aren't playing for our side.

Is this the third straight year Virginia and Wisconsin have played in the Challenge?

Just seems like it, it's only the second. It might seem longer because the two teams with the most boring styles are playing back to back.

Virginia has a much, much deeper team and is our choice here.

Northwestern - we'd love to pick Chris Collins here, but it would be tough. We're tempted to call it a toss-up though, because State's not that far along either and very young.

The best news for UNC is that the Heels beat Louisville and then lost to UAB. There's no chance Carolina goes to Michigan State without hope or overconfident. There's also almost no chance UNC wins this game. Michigan State is more experienced, more athletic and more balanced. Carolina has exactly one outside shooter, 6-1, 175 Marcus Paige, and Michigan State has...well a lot. And most of the defenders Paige will see will be bigger and stronger. It could be a long night.

Someone also has to deal with Adreian Payne.

We wouldn't bet the house money on Michigan State, but we might bet the car payment.

Given such a weak start, we have no faith in Boston College to beat Purdue. Nor do we expect Miami to win over Nebraska.