The first day of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is over with the ACC up 4-2. Now, we’re on to day two. With that in mind, Matt Patton and Lathan Wells from the ACC microsite and Jonathan Batuello and Brendan Brody from the B1G microsite got together to answer some key questions concerning this year’s Challenge. This post will preview the three late Wednesday night games, but be sure to read the earlier post previewing today’s early games. Also be sure to check out both microsites over the next few days for further reaction and analysis as the Challenge finishes up.
North Carolina at Michigan State, 9:00 PM, ESPN
Gary Harris and Michigan State are heavy favorites in the match-up against North Carolina (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
B1G: What was billed as one of the biggest games in the Challenge doesn’t appear like it will be close considering UNC’s early struggles. Still, it did beat Louisville so the potential for an upset is there. For UNC to win in East Lansing tonight, it has to find a way to guard Adreian Payne. Should the Tar Heels put Brice Johnson on him or go with a committee approach with the other bigs they have on the roster?
ACC: Payne’s ability to go outside probably precludes UNC from just putting one player on him. James Michael McAdoo may be the most versatile big man they have, but the Heels can’t afford for him to fall into foul trouble chasing Payne around all over the place. This will likely be a by-committee approach with Johnson, McAdoo and several other big men splitting duties throughout. For North Carolina, there’s no question that they have been most successful when Marcus Paige is scoring from all over the floor. How does Michigan State make sure that Paige doesn’t beat them, something a team such as the defending national champion was unable to do?
B1G: Paige has most definitely been on a roll to start the season, but aside from some flashes from James Michael McAdoo and Brice Johnson, he has proven to be UNC’s only real offensive weapon. Tom Izzo wouldn’t do anything as drastic as playing a box-and-one against him, but it makes sense to put Branden Dawson on him. He is Michigan State’s best defender and can defend four positions reasonably well. Another option would be to play Travis Trice more minutes on the floor at the same time as Keith Appling, with Appling handling the play-making duties and Trice concentrating more on the other end. Either way, defending Paige has to be priority number one for MSU. If Izzo focuses his defense on shutting down Paige, then Roy Williams will have to look to McAdoo. How can he be most effective offensively against Michigan State? Do they try to get him going down low or have him use his quickness on the wing?
ACC: McAdoo has been the biggest enigma on this team so far and it appears he’s struggling in bouncing between playing the three and four positions. The team will need to get him involved more often on the blocks, but it may come down to his aggressiveness and and restored confidence more so than any designed offensive schemes. He’s best when he can turn and face the basket or get out in transition; the latter would be helped by a solid rebounding effort from the Tar Heels. Michigan State doesn’t give many opportunities, though, as by most metrics it is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation. But is there one player who would be tasked with taking over the game if the team unexpectedly goes cold from the floor for an extended stretch?
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