Story of the Night. Is this the year, after nine straight emasculations at the hands of the ACC, that the Big 10 finally breaks through and wins the ACC/Big 10 Challenge? Well, considering that going into the last day of the Challenge in 2007-08, the ACC led 5-1, the previous year 4-2, and in fact, the Big 10 has NEVER gone into the final day deadlocked, we consider this a moral victory. Maybe they don’t, but we do. Looking at tomorrow night, the ACC still has the upper hand (Wake is a mortal lock at home vs. Indiana, and Georgia Tech will be heavily favored at home vs. Penn St.), but if Michigan St. and Northwestern can protect their home court/field, (big ifs) then Michigan @ Maryland could be the tipping point game. Maryland will be favored, but Michigan has proven that it can play with anyone this year, and you never know which Terp team will show up. If only the Illini had held on at home tonight, Big 10 fans!!
This Is What Duke Does. Duke 76, Purdue 60. The most hyped game of tonight’s Challenge, if not the actual best game, reminded us all of what Duke consistently does every year in November and December – beat all comers. Those of us who were fooled by Duke’s completely shameful avoidance of true nonconference road contests forgot what Duke typically does when they play those ACC-mandated games away from home – win them. Duke looked focused and ready to play from the tip, while Purdue was clearly over-focused, to the point of blowing wide open layups and showing an inability to make simple defensive switches. The Purdue jitters excuse quickly morphed into one involving Duke’s superior defense, though, as Purdue stars Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore were held to a pedestrian 25 pts (six below their average), but 20 of those points were in the last eleven minutes of regulation, when the game was largely out of reach. The Devils held the Boilers to 37% from the field and a mere 2-13 from three. Equally impressive, Duke dominated the boards 44-26, including eight extra possessions from offensive rebounds. Kyle Singler led the way for Duke with a double-double (20/12), but Jon Scheyer (20 pts) and Nolan Smith (12 pts) contributed with timely threes, as Duke improved to 10-0 in the Challenge. Purdue Fan = not happy.