Fans of the Big Ten were bombarded with wall-to-wall Feast Week basketball over the past 10 days, and now it’s time to tip off the 17th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Many of this year’s predetermined matchups are interesting and watchable, but there are always a few potential clunkers. Here is your Big Ten viewer’s guide to the best of the best and the worst of the worst in the 14 games occurring over the next three evenings.
- Can’t Miss: (Maryland-North Carolina; Louisville-Michigan State). If I can’t sell you on two top 10 teams that regularly played each other as conference rivals for the better part of a half-century and on a Tom Izzo vs. Rick Pitino coaching clash in as a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight game, then what am I doing writing about basketball? These two are staggered, tipping off on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, respectively.
- Serious Potential: (Indiana-Duke; Purdue-Pittsburgh; Michigan-NC State). Indiana could mess around and score 120 points or they could implode into a turnover hellhole of their own creation. Either way, it will be compelling television. Pittsburgh and Purdue have blue collar reputations, but they also both have zero losses and top 20 offenses through the first two weeks of the season. Michigan and NC State have both underachieved thus far, but the Wolverines and Wolfpack have enough talent and athletes on the floor to make this game entertaining.
- Solid if not Spectacular: (Wisconsin-Syracuse; Notre Dame-Illinois; Miami-Nebraska; Florida State-Iowa). All of these games could be competitive, as at least five of these teams should end up in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin trying to figure out its offense against the Syracuse 2-3 zone and Illinois playing its first game back in Assembly Hall are headlines, but also keep an eye on whether Nebraska can break through against a ranked team with loads of experience. The Cornhuskers hung with Villanova for a while and kept it close with Cincinnati in their only two losses. The Florida State-Iowa game should feature a ton of size, and appears to be one of the most balanced games on paper.