ACC/Big Ten Challenge Preview: Part II

Posted by Matt Auerbach on November 28th, 2017

After a two-game appetizer on Monday night that resulted in a 2-0 ACC lead, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge revs into high gear this evening with a full slate of five more games.

  • Louisville at Purdue (8:00 PM, ESPN): Of the 10 Challenge teams playing tonight, only Louisville is ranked in this week’s AP Top 25, checking in at #17.  The Cardinals, which have won their first four games with new head coach David Padgett at the helm, travel to Mackey Arena for their sternest test to date to take on Purdue. The Boilermakers are coming off of a disappointing seventh place finish at the Battle 4 Atlantis during Feast Week, but they finished strong in obliterating Arizona in an 11-of-22 performance from three-point range. Padgett’s group has thus far sustained the defensive prowess and identity (second nationally in block percentage and 10th in two-point field goal percentage) of former head coach Rick Pitino, but Purdue will represent a significant step up in weight class in the featured game of the evening.

The Cardinals Have Maintained A Similar Style Under David Padgett (Credit: Michael Clevenger/Courier-Journal)

  • Florida State at Rutgers (7:00 PM, ESPNU): Considering the Seminoles’ opposition to date, a 5-0 start isn’t all that surprising, but the manner in which they have achieved that result most certainly has been. Florida State has exceeded 85 points in four of its first five contests by shooting a very healthy 53 percent as a team, highlighted by a blistering 64 percent conversion rate from inside the arc (trailing only Xavier nationally). A trip to visit 6-0 Rutgers should make for an interesting match-up, as neither squad has played a top-100 team nor have they been tested. Terrance Mann will be the focal point of Steve Pikiell’s defensive game plan, as the junior has missed only seven of his 40 two-point field goal attempts so far this season.

  • Northwestern at Georgia Tech (7:00 PM, ESPN2): Freshman point guard Jose Alvarado has turned some heads in his first four collegiate games, but his stiffest test to date arrives tonight as Northwestern’s experienced backcourt duo of Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey visit Atlanta. Alvarado has stuffed the stat sheet (14.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 4.5 APG) in sparking the Yellow Jackets while sophomore wing Josh Okogie serves a six-game suspension. He, along with senior center Ben Lammers, college basketball’s fifth-leading shot blocker, will look to continue what has been a disappointing start for the Wildcats (which includes a home loss to Creighton and neutral site burial by Texas Tech).
  • Illinois at Wake Forest (9:00 PM, ESPNU): Brad Underwood’s first year at Illinois is off to a more promising start than that of Danny Manning’s fourth year at Wake Forest. And while the 6-0 Illini’s most impressive win to date is over DePaul, beating inferior opponents is not something the Demon Deacons have likewise been able to accomplish. Sitting at 2-4 against the nation’s 235th rated schedule, it would be reasonable to say the natives would get a bit restless without a strong home showing tonight — but that would ignore the confounding six-year contract extension that Manning signed last week. Go figure. Either way, Wake could really use a win.
  • Iowa at Virginia Tech (9:00 PM, ESPN2): The final game of the night sets up as potentially the most aesthetically appealing as Iowa travels to Blacksburg looking to slow down the nation’s top scoring squad, Virginia Tech. Lighting up the scoreboard for 102 points per night, Buzz Williams’ team leads the nation in making nearly half its three-point attempts while compiling a ridiculous 67.7 percent effective field goal percentage (also #1 nationally). Justin Bibbs’ 21.3 PPG leads a corps of five Hokies who are averaging double-figures, including junior wing Ahmed Hill, who has netted an absurd 22 of his first 37 three-point attempts this year. Iowa limps in to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, having lost two of three games to mediocre competition in the Cayman Islands last week.
Matthew Auerbach (70 Posts)

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