It's a bit early to really get into the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, not least of all since so many things can still change. For instance, both UNC and Florida State are still in it with Andrew Wiggins. If he chooses either school, the dynamic changes rapidly.
Also, no one really knows yet just how good (or bad) Richard Pitino will be at Minnesota or, for that matter, what Chris Collins will do in his first year. And then there are the three new ACC schools.
All that said, here's a (very) preliminary stab at the outcome.
Florida State had seven underclassmen this past season. They'll all be a year older. Big men Boris Bojanovsky (7-3), Michael Ojo (7-1) and Kiel Turpin (7-0). Terrance Shannon should be healed, too. They'll be better. We're not sure yet about Minnesota. We're guessing Pitino will want to run and press; how well he can do that his first year remains to be seen.
We'll have to return to Illinois-Tech later when we have more insights on both teams.
Indiana loses Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, and that's a lot. Syracuse meanwhile returns a ton of talent and brings in more. We'll take the 'Cuse here. We don't know them well enough yet to know when they'll blow it, but we know that at times they do.
Duke will have issues with Mitch McGary, but Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. have left for the NBA. Michigan is a system team, and it's a brilliant system. But it's not easy to do things in Cameron, so we'll take Duke.
We know Iowa is improving, but we're not sure how much, so for now, we'll say Notre Dame here.
Pitt should definitely not lose to Penn State, much less at home.
We really think BC is about to take off, and Purdue is getting over a tough year. We like the Eagles here.
Maryland is improving, but they still haven't got a definite point guard and Ohio State sure does in Aaron Craft. We'll take Ohio State here but the win either can go to the Big Ten.
This far out, we'd have to take Nebraska over Miami. You don't lose your top six players and just roll on.
With Andrew Wiggins: UNC over Michigan State. Without: Michigan State.
As far as Northwestern goes, here's the thing: last year, seven guys were injured. Jared Swopshire blew his knee out. Drew Crawford went out in December. Alex Olah had a concussion. James Montgomery III, a former walk-on and women's practice player, ended up being pretty critical. They'll have more experience than State and could catch the Pack unawares.Â And don't forget that Collins knows State's players very well.
Wisconsin will have a grudge from last year, but we expect Virginia to have a shot at a great year.Â UVa had a rough year injury-wise too: Jontel Evans had a stress fracture, Mike Tobey had mono, and Malcolm Brogdon sat out the year.
Evans is done, but Virginia returns the brilliant Joe Harris, the oft-spectacular Justin Anderson, a vastly improved Akil Mitchell, and Darion Atkins.
They also bring in two rookie point guards, London Perrantes and Devon Hall, and South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill, who averaged 7.9 ppg and 4.7 rpg as a freshman.
Imagine Virginia's system with some high level athletes, and you can see some headaches.
Right now, we see FSU, Syracuse, Duke, Notre Dame, Pitt, BC and Virginia winning.
The weakest picks there are FSU and BC.
Giving the Maryland/ Ohio State game to the Big Ten either way, we see the ACC winning around sevengames.
Of course, the absolute best scenario, aside from an 11-1 ACC roll, would be for Ohio State to get several controversial calls, then to have Mark Turgeon thrown out, and Maryland to be hugely embittered by the whole deal.
This would first be funny, and second, give the Big Ten a taste of the Maryland mind set: the reactions would be incredible. Nothing new to the ACC of course, but it won't be long before Maryland is screaming about something like "Midwestern bias."
You heard it here first.
2013 BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE MATCHUPS:
Tuesday, December 3rd
- Florida State @ Minnesota
- Illinois @ Georgia Tech
- Indiana @ Syracuse
- Michigan @ Duke
- Notre Dame @ Iowa
- Penn State @ Pittsburgh
Wednesday, December 4th
- Boston College @ Purdue
- Maryland @ Ohio State
- Miami @ Nebraska
- North Carolina @ Michigan State
- Northwestern @ NC State
- Wisconsin @ Virginia