Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
We concluded the Tuesday preview with the ACC up 4-2 on the Big Ten in the 2013 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Wednesday lost some of the hype surrounding the night when North Carolina fell at UAB on Sunday night. What once was a top ten match-up between North Carolina and Michigan State is now the number one team vs an unranked team. The best match-up of the night now goes to #8 Wisconsin at Virginia at 7:00pm on ESPN2.
With the first day going in favor of the ACC, it will be important for the Big Ten to take advantage of a couple of swing games on day two. Boston College at Purdue, Northwestern at North Carolina State, and Miami at Nebraska are three games that can swing the event back in favor of the Big Ten. It won’t be as exciting of a night for fans, but Maryland fans will get their fill if the event continues to swing in favor of the Big Ten (except the Ohio State game, of course).
Maryland at Ohio State – 7:00 ESPN
A big opportunity for Maryland to get a top five win and make a splash on nation television. Ohio State has been and will continue to be a top team in the Big Ten. If Maryland is able to beat them, it would make for an exciting transition to the Big Ten. Unfortunately, with how balanced Ohio State is, Maryland’s lack of point guard play and road struggles leaves me to think it will be difficult for Maryland to win this game on the road. Ohio State should cruise to a victory in this game, and cut the ACC lead to 4-3.
Wisconsin at Virginia – 7:00 ESPN2
The similar trend from yesterday continues of there being rematches from last years challenge. This is a match-up that should continue for years to come, as both teams play a similar style and are comparable to one another in their league. The expectations are high this season for Virginia, but after losing to VCU in the opener they have now dropped out of the top 25. Wisconsin has started a stellar season, and is now ranked in the top 10 and has wins over Florida, St. Louis, and West Virginia to their name. Wisconsin dropped this game last year, but I think this year they make up for it and win on the road. The Badgers are clicking at a high level so far this season, and are consistently a tough team to play even at home. Wisconsin wins and evens the Challenge up at 4.
Northwestern at North Carolina State – 7:30 ESPNU
It has been a rough start to the season for the Wildcats and their first year head coach, Chris Collins. Northwestern is currently 4-4 and has lost back-to-back games against Missouri and UCLA. North Carolina State lost on the road to Cincinnati, and then a game later in double overtime to North Carolina Central. This is a tough game to get a read on, because both teams are struggling to get their season off to the right start. Northwestern is getting used to a new coach, while the North Carolina State is attempting to replace a lot from last years team. I’m inclined to go with the home team in this game and take North Carolina State to break tie and give the ACC a 5-4 lead.
North Carolina at Michigan State – 9:00 ESPN
As mentioned, this was billed as one of the best match-ups of the Challenge, but following loses to Belmont and UAB, this game has lost a lot of its appeal. North Carolina has a lot of problems, and Michigan State won’t provide an easy opportunity for the Tar Heels to figure them out. Point guard play, outside shooting, and interior play have been issues for North Carolina. They now look to figure out those problems against one of the nations best backcourts and top shooting teams. Michigan State is scoring at a high rate, and doing it at an efficient rate. I’m picking Michigan State to run away with this game, and tie the Challenge back at 5.
Boston College at Purdue – 9:00 ESPN2
The Eagles seen has gotten off to a slow start after a lot of hype in the offseason. The Boilermakers are 6-2 right now, after raking up a bunch of wins over low major teams. Purdue struggled in Orlando at the Old Spice Classic, picking up their only win of the tournament against Sienna. They now return home and will attempt to stop one of the ACC’s best guards in Olivier Hanlan. Boston College is looking to continue on their two game winning streak after starting the season 0-3. It won’t be easy for a Boston College team that doesn’t shoot at a high rate or rebound well to get a win on the road, but I think Hanlan will be too much for Purdue to handle. Boston College grabs an important road win for themselves and the ACC to push the lead to 6-5.
Miami at Nebraska – 9:30 ESPNU
The final match-up of the night is one that is sure to excite no one. After winning the ACC last season, Miami is looking to rebuild their entire team. Nebraska is on a two game winning streak after beating Georgia and Northern Illinois. Nebraska is shooting at a low rate and only averaging 8 assist per game. Fortunately for them, Miami is struggling to score the ball, and shooting at a low rate as well. Nebraska is at home, which should give them an edge over an offensively challenged Miami team. A Nebraska win evens out the Challenge for another year in a row at 6-6.