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ACC/Big Ten Challenge Notes

It could be a good year for the ACC.

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Clemson and Rutgers put on an early ACC-Big Ten Challenge preview (Clemson won).
Clemson and Rutgers put on an early ACC-Big Ten Challenge preview (Clemson won).
Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC-Big Ten Challenge has turned into a pretty solid event, one which really kind of kicks off the season.

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Yes, there have been various tournaments already but a lot of those are just basically used as tune ups. These games are pretty serious. So how are the matchups looking this year?

Well interesting, to say the least, and with some subplots as well.

Wake Forest is off to play Rutgers, which fired its football coach and A.D. Sunday after the football team had a number of issues off the field. And as for the A.D., Julie Hermann has been...well an interesting experience for Rutgers.

You may remember that former basketball coach Kevin Rice was fired for being abusive to his players, and Rutgers also fired his A.D. and hired Hermann...only to find out that her former volleyball players - she coached at Tennessee - accused her of abusive behavior. And she discouraged an assistant coach when she wanted to have a baby. Then she said it wasn't on video - "There’s no video. Trust me."

Well there was video.

On top of everything else, the NCAA is sniffing around. This doesn't directly affect basketball, but people are surely talking. And for what it's worth, Danny Manning and Eddie Jordan know each other from their NBA days.

UNC and Maryland have some things to sort out.

Maryland has never much cared for UNC, though Duke became a more detested rival after Coach K showed up and starting taking Maryland's lunch money on a regular basis.

On top of that, Maryland now has Rasheed Sulaimon, who is likely to be a natural target for UNC fans.

This is almost certain to be the most intense game of the event. Maryland, we're quite sure, would like to decapitate UNC. Whatever else you can say about Roy Williams, he's an ACC guy and he probably didn't appreciate Maryland's departure and how it was managed.

For Duke fans, it might be somewhat like living in the 17th century and facing a choice between diarrhea and cholera. Either way is going to be awful.

Syracuse and Louisville are both dealing with NCAA issues, which Michigan State fans might have fun with.

Indiana's Tom Crean is getting fan heat a la Herb Sendek at NC State. There may be nothing he can do to satisfy the haters, but if we were advising him, we'd advise him to look as little like Tom Arnold as possible. Which isn't easy.

On to the games.

Rutgers lost to Clemson and while you can't transpose that to Wake, we do think Wake will be better than Clemson. Rutgers has beaten Rutgers-Newark, Howard and Central Arkansa and lost to St. John's, Creighton and Clemson. We'll take the Deacs over Rutgers.

We'd be surprised if Clemson beats Minnesota on the road, but like Rutgers, Minnesota has played a weak schedule to date. Still: Minnesota.

It's hard to see State beating Michigan. Maybe in March. We love how John Beilein's offense can pounce. It's like this elaborate watch he's made. So Michigan.

With the game at Cassell, we'd think Virginia Tech has the advantage over Northwestern, plus Zach LeDay has been brilliant so far.

Virginia is occasionally vulnerable early, but Ohio State has been shockingly bad so far: losing to Memphis, okay. But UT-Arlington? Louisiana Tech?

Nebraska is an uncertain basketball power but a well-coached one. But Miami is looking great and the 'Canes won't be happy after losing to Northeastern. Our respect for Jim Larranaga compels us to take Miami.

Pitt and Purdue...These teams are probably fairly similar. Purdue has played a tougher schedule though. Do you ever get the feeling that Jamie Dixon would like to schedule a few high school teams? Purdue.

As for Darth Vader vs. The Joker, we'll bet on experience and a big home court advantage. So UNC.

It's risky to make absolute statements about a Rick Pitino team but we can't see the Cards beating Michigan State.

It's also risky to pick against Bo Ryan but Wisconsin lost so much and Syracuse is playing well. Plus it's at home in the Musty Dome. So Syracuse.

BC vs. Penn State...Penn State is farther along but we're impressed with Jim Christian. He's really got a tough job but if you look past the W/L stuff and just at how his team responds, he's getting through to them. We'd give Penn State a slight edge but wouldn't rule out BC.

As a rule we don't bet against Duke and IU is having some issues early and have had some real discipline issues the last couple of years. So Duke.

Illinois is fresh out of point guards and Notre Dame is solid. We'll take the Irish.

Florida State vs. Iowa...hmmm....we're not big fns of Fran McCaffrey and Adam Woodbury is positively repulsive.

But FSU is still pretty young in key spots and has never been a great road team. Still, this is a talented team and the offense might match Leonard Hamilton's defense. Plus we'd love to see Woodbury try to pull a dirty trick on Michael Ojo. He's missed the season so far with a meniscus tear but if Woodbury tried to poke him in the eye Ojo might grind him into dust in front of everyone. That's one really big man.

We'll take a risk on FSU and probably hate ourselves for it later.

So that's 8-6 ACC.