ACC-Big Ten Challenge
Two of the strongest conferences in men’s NCAA Basketball kick off their annual challenge tonight and tomorrow, and it has the best college basketball games of the week. In my opinion, this is some of the best non-conference basketball in the NCAA and definitely worth a look if you are even a casual NCAA fan.
With a number of legitimate Final Four contenders (Indiana, Duke, Ohio State, Michigan) and other perennial power teams (Michigan State, North Carolina, North Carolina State), this year’s Challenge will produce some remarkable college basketball so early in the season.
Below is a list of this year’s games, with my picks in bold.
TUESDAY November 27, 2012
• Iowa at Virginia Tech, 7:15 p.m.
• Minnesota at Florida State, 7:15 p.m.
• NC State at Michigan, 7:30 p.m.
• Nebraska at Wake Forest, 9:15 p.m.
• Maryland at Northwestern, 9:15 p.m.
• North Carolina at Indiana, 9:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY November 28, 2012
• Virginia at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.
• Purdue at Clemson, 7:15 p.m.
• Michigan State at Miami, 7:30 p.m.
• Georgia Tech at Illinois, 9 p.m.
• Boston College at Penn State, 9:15 p.m.
• Ohio State at Duke, 9:30 p.m.
BEST GAME- Ohio State vs. Duke- If I need to explain why Ohio State and Duke is a stellar game in the NCAA, then you may have missed the last decade of hoops. Ohio State hasn’t had any real tests yet, although they looked solid in a 11-point win over Washington. Duke has already knocked off Kentucky, Louisville, and Minnesota, while racing to a 6-0 start. Duke should win, but if defensive-minded Craft manages to disrupt Seth Curry, it will be close.
Don’t Miss This Game- NC State vs. Michigan- NC State is one of the most underrated teams in the NCAA this year, especially since their disappointing loss to OK State earlier this year. They have dynamic scorers at a number of positions and will score in bunches. Michigan, after years in obscurity, have been stocking their cupboards with top-notch talent the last three years. They have depth, grittiness, inside-outside scoring, and basketball pedigree (Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III have fairly famous NBA dads). I picked them as a dark horse Final Four team this year, but as they are now ranked 3 in the AP poll I guess “dark horse” no longer applies.
By my count that has the Big Ten winning this year’s Challenge 7-5, continuing their recent success in the challenge. Will Syracuse and Pittsburgh’s move into the ACC next year tip the scale back into ACC hands next year? We shall see…
RANT OF THE WEEK: Everyone hear about Jack Taylor from Grinnell College scoring a record 138 points in a college game? This is an amazing feat of conditioning to play a game in which you shoot 108 shoots (including 71 from three-point); my arms are getting tired from just typing up this article. And I applaud the coach for coming up with a system that fits his team’s personnel.
BUT… I am disgusted that Grinnell won this game by over 70 points, and continued to push the pace and put up threes at a frenetic pace. I am not saying change your entire team dynamic and strategy, but have a little class and show respect for the other team. Make some small adjustments to continue improving as a team without trying to run up the score (ex. bench players get more PT instead of Jack playing 36 of 40 minutes, work your half court offence, involve your post players, etc.)
… and that’s the last word.