ACC – Big 10 Challenge PreviewPosted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2008
If you haven’t heard, the ACC – Big 10 Challenge starts continues tonight! We were certifiably swamped yesterday with catch-up, so we’ll sorta forget that the Wisconsin v. Virginia Tech game already happened (brought to you by Trevon Hughes), and spend a few minutes taking a sideways glance at the tonight’s slate of games.
The Challenge is usually an exercise in futility for the Big 10 (0-9 all-time), but we think this year they have a shot (just a shot, mind you) at pulling off a 6-5 upset for the first time in the history of the event. Remember, thanks to Wisconsin, the league already has a 1-0 lead in one of the key tossup games. We expect the league to come out of tonight at 3-3 (possibly 4-2) with two home games left.
Tuesday Games (12.02.08)
- Ohio St. (3-0) @ Miami (FL) (4-1) – 7pm (ESPN). This is one of those games where, unless you’re a fan of either team, you’re probably scratching your head a little bit. Miami is at home and they’ve played a tougher schedule (losing to UConn; beating San Diego), but OSU’s defense has been nothing short of superb thus far (holding Samford to 22 pts last weekend and ranking #2 nationally in points per possession – 0.67). We’d expect a relatively close, low-scoring battle here with Jack McClinton pulling it out for Miami at the end. The Pick: Miami (FL).
- Iowa (6-1) @ Boston College (4-2) – 7pm (ESPNU). BC has navigated the tougher schedule thus far, with a win over UAB and a tough loss to Purdue in the Preseason NIT to its credit. Iowa got blown out by WVU and narrowly defeated West Virginia last weekend in Las Vegas. BC doesn’t do anything particulary well other than control tempo, and Iowa is an efficient team that likes to slow it down even more, but Tyrese Rice is tough to stop at home (22 ppt on 55% FG), and therefore we like BC to roll here. The Pick: Boston College.
- Clemson (7-0) @ Illinois (6-0) – 7:30pm (ESPN2). This looks like a trap for Clemson. Despite going 7-2 in the Challenge, we just aren’t seeing a way for Clemson to go into Illinois and steal a win away there from Bruce Weber this year. Clemson’s only true road game thus far was at Charlotte, and they barely escaped with a 1-point win. Illinois, on the other hand, already has a road win at Vandy and two solid mid-major wins vs. Kent St. and Tulsa. They hit their FTs at a 74% clip and don’t turn the ball over very much. Look for Mike Davis to have a big game inside. The Pick: Illinois.
- Duke (7-0) v. Purdue (5-1) – 9pm (ESPN). Tonight’s marquee matchup should be an extremely entertaining game to watch. We expect to see a raucous Mackey Arena highlighting a game marked by stifling pressure defense (Purdue is slightly better here) and high-powered offense (Duke, here). We expect to see Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore try to position themselves as a better sophomore tandem than Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. We expect to see a close game marked by two or three key plays down the stretch the determines the outcome. All that said, these are the early-season games that Duke Basketball seems to feast on. Despite a 13-1 home record last season, we think Purdue will be surprised by Duke’s maniacal focus on the road, and get behind early. The late comeback will just fall short, as Duke goes to 10-0 in the Challenge. The Pick: Duke.
- Virginia (3-2) @ Minnesota (6-0) – 9:30pm (ESPN2). No matter whom Virginia plays, it’s a close game (scores of +10, +2, +2, -4, -3). Their toughest opponent by far was Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, but we attribute that close loss to a letdown by Syracuse, not because of anything Virginia particularly brought to the table. Minnesota hasn’t tested itself yet, with four home games against nobodies, but we still think a Tubby Smith team at home will defend its rear off and pull out a relatively close win (esp. against some of the worst defense in the nation thus far). The Pick: Minnesota.
Check back tomorrow afternoon for our breakdowns of the Wednesday Challenge games.