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.

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Big Ten M5: 02.25.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 25th, 2013


  1. Did we just see Iowa‘s bubble burst over the weekend in Lincoln? The Hawkeyes lost to the Cornhuskers, 64-60, despite leading by 16 points earlier in the game. The win would have not been a quality one by any means, but the loss to Nebraska will definitely considered “bad” by the Selection Committee. In order to make up for this loss, they need to beat Illinois at home and possibly Indiana on March 2, both of the games will be very tough considering the youth on Fran McCaffery’s team. But if they do miss the tournament, they will definitely look back at this weekend as the one that got away.
  2. Speaking of Nebraska, Tim Miles has been very optimistic about the Cornhuskers and the fans have noticed which indicates that they are buying into his coaching abilities.”He’s very shrewd,” longtime radio play-by-play man Kent Pavelka said. Pavelka added, ”He’s pushing every button there is to push out there.” Miles has been very aggressive on the recruiting trail and speaks highly of the facilities in Lincoln. “State-of-the-art stuff means a lot to recruits,” Miles said. The 64-60 win over Iowa does not seem like a big deal on the outset but it is a perfect win for Miles as he has kept his team motivated in a very tough league.
  3. John Groce has received well deserved recognition amongst the media in Chicago during the past few weeks. After rattling off five straight wins before losing In Ann Arbor on Sunday, he has gained his players’ trust and is geared up for homestretch of the conference season. Chicago Tribune writes about Groce’s personal side during his trip to New Mexico for recruiting purposes, but had to spend Valentine’s day with his wife on the flight. “Two hours on the plane there and back, you don’t get that kind of time away from kids,” said Groce, a father of two sons. Many media outlets have his Illini “in” for the NCAA tournament but they still need to take care of business against Nebraska in Champaign to avoid a “bad” loss. 
  4. February turned out to be a brutally tough schedule for the Michigan Wolverines as they lost three out of five games before beating the Illini on Sunday. It had been seven days since their win over Penn State and head coach John Beilein used the week to stress defense during practice. Beilein and the coaching staff did a great job of just emphasizing defense and how we were playing earlier in the season in the NIT and before the Big Ten started,” guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said. During the tough five-game stretch, their opponents were averaging 73.5 PPG which needs to be cut down if they hope to make a run at the the Final Four in March. Trey Burke and company responded to their head coach by holding Illini to just 58 points on Sunday after being down by three at halftime.
  5. Despite the Michigan State‘s loss to the Hoosiers last week, they still remain confident about winning the Big Ten title. “With the way teams are in the Big Ten, I think it’s going to end up being shared because anybody could be beat because it’s hard,” Derrick Nix said. He added, “It’s the hardest year it’s ever been since I’ve been here.” Obviously a Big Ten title would be a great achievement for the Spartans but Tom Izzo builds his teams to perform well in March and a Final Four appearance could trump a second place finish in the conference standings. Izzo’s teams have won the conference title three out of the last four seasons. After the Spartans’ loss to the Buckeyes on Sunday, they are 1.5 games behind Indiana in the conference standings.
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