The 2021-22 ACC-Big Ten Challenge will take place from November 29-December 1 and features some interesting matchups. The Big Ten has been facing some struggles as teams like Illinois and Michigan have underperformed. The ACC also has some underperforming teams, but the games should help sports analysts decide which conference has underwhelmed the most. Last year the Big Ten won 7-5 after almost blowing a 6-1 lead. Will the Big Ten reign supreme this year? Let’s analyze these matchups.
2021-22 ACC Big Ten Challenge Predictions
Iowa at Virginia | 7 p.m. | ESPN2
Keegan Murray. He’s been the leading force for the Hawkeyes, scoring over 20 points in each game. He has emerged as an All-American and NPOY candidate. His brother, Kris, is the second-leading scorer for the Hawkeyes. The offense has been absolutely dynamite as the Hawkeyes rank sixth in adjusted offense. Virginia will have to figure out how to stop them. The defense for the Cavaliers has always been strong, but they have suffered losses to Navy and Houston early in the season, making fans wonder how good they truly are. Jayden Gardner, Kihei Clark, and Armaan Franklin are going to do their thing and wreak havoc. However, Virginia’s offense has looked stagnant, scoring over 70 points only once.
It just doesn’t seem likely that the Cavaliers will be able to counteract the dominance of Murray; therefore, I believe the Hawkeyes will win this game and give the Big Ten and 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame at Illinois | 9 p.m. | ESPN2
Notre Dame is in the same category as Virginia. The defense has been solid, but the offense has been somewhat lacking. The highest point total of the season for the Fighting Irish has been 67. They have good guys such as Prentiss Hubb, Paul Atkinson, and Blake Wesley, but nothing has seemed to click at the moment. The same could be said for Illinois, which has struggled mightily. After basically giving Marquette the win due to a copious amount of turnovers, Illinois lost by 20 to a good (are they good?) Cincinnati squad. Furthermore, Illinois struggled against UT Rio Grande Valley. However, Illinois should win this game because it has one thing that Notre Dame lacks, Kofi Cockburn. Ever since returning, Cockburn has been dominant, and it seems unlikely that Notre Dame will be able to control him.
Sure the guard play has been shaky for Illinois, but Cockburn is a force. The Fighting Illini should win this game. If not, Brad Underwood will be under scrutiny.
Minnesota at Pitt | 7 p.m. | ESPNU
What do I even write about Pitt? They’ve lost at home to The Citadel and UMBC. Home court advantage can’t even save this team! They barely beat Towson. Minnesota is at the bottom of the pecking order in the Big Ten, but Jamison Battle and Payton Willis have been good for the Golden Gophers. If Minnesota loses this game, they should be exiled from the conference.
Indiana at Syracuse | 7 p.m. | ESPN2
This game is intriguing because Indiana has looked like a formidable opponent. Trayce Jackson-Davis has been a wrecking machine, and his surrounding cast is equally as fun to watch. The Hoosiers have had some close games against Marshall and St. John’s, but the Hoosiers have held their own and dominated most of the games that they have played. Syracuse has struggled recently. It gave up 100 points to Colgate and allowed 67 points to a VCU team that lost to Wagner earlier in the season. The defense for Syracuse has been atrocious, but the offense, led by Buddy Boeheim and Joseph Girard, has been impressive. Don’t be surprised if Syracuse wins this game, but Indiana will expose that awful Orange defense. This will be the second impressive win for Mike Woodson.
Clemson at Rutgers | 9 p.m. | ESPN2
Clemson has played some close games against teams like West Virginia and St. Bonaventure. The Tigers aren’t an atrocious team. The defense and offense are ranked about equally, meaning the Tigers are serviceable on both sides of the ball. PJ Hall, Al-Amir Dawes, and Nick Honor have all been viable options on offense. The same could not be said for Rutgers, which has suffered three straight losses against Lafayette, DePaul, and UMass. Lafayette was 0-4 when it beat Rutgers, making it an atrocious loss. Ron Harper and Clifford Omoruyi can’t even save this team. The offense has just gone cold, and that’s extremely dangerous against a team that has a good defense like Clemson. Clemson should win this game, but Rutgers might be on a revenge tour, which is sometimes the most lethal team.
Florida State at Purdue | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN
Florida State isn’t a bad team. Its only disappointing loss was to Florida, but the Seminoles are good. Malik Osborne, Matthew Cleveland, Caleb Mills, and Anthony Polite give the Seminoles a wide variety of scorers while the defense attempts to suffocate opponents. The only problem is it’s difficult to stop the Boilermakers. Purdue has a starting five that absolutely terrorizes opposing defenses. Trevion Williams, a preseason All-American, is coming off of the bench. Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey are emerging as preseason All-American candidates. Ivey is so smooth with the ball, and Edey is a force in the post. How will Florida State be able to stop those two? Florida State will put up a fight because Leonard Hamilton’s teams always do; however, Purdue should slowly dominate this game.
Northwestern at Wake Forest | 9 p.m. | ESPNU
This could be a fun game between two scrappy teams. Alondes Williams and Daivien Williamson have been excellent for the Demon Deacons while Northwestern has Pete Nance and Boo Buie. This game should be very close as both teams are evenly matched in advanced statistics. Northwestern is just slightly better at all aspects, but fans should be in for a treat when these two face off on Tuesday night. Both teams have only played one team in the top 100 in KenPom, and both teams have lost those games. It’s an insanely difficult game to choose because both teams are so unpredictable. Northwestern just passes the eye test, meaning the Wildcats are my choice to win the game. However, don’t be shocked if Wake Forest wins.
Duke at Ohio State | 9:30 p.m. | ESPN
Duke looked absolutely amazing against Gonzaga. Paolo Banchero looked like a star before cramping in the second half, and it’ll be difficult for the Buckeyes to stop him. Mark Williams was a force in the paint, outshining Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, and Wendell Moore had an excellent game of his own. If Banchero doesn’t cramp, who knows how many points he can drop on the Buckeyes. Duke will have to contain EJ Liddell, who has been fantastic in every game. Duke might not be able to stop him, but as long as he doesn’t drop 23 on them, the Blue Devils should feel confident about their chances. The Buckeyes have been a very good team lately, but Duke is on another level at the moment. The Blue Devils give the ACC its marquee win.
Louisville at Michigan State | 7:15 p.m. | ESPN
I was down on Michigan State until the Spartans impressed during the Battle 4 Atlantis. Louisville also redeemed itself by winning the Bahamas Championship. Both teams have had offensive struggles, but the defenses have been amazing. It may not be the most exciting matchup to watch, but both teams are equally matched. It really depends on who gets hot for both teams. Gabe Brown has been excellent for the Spartans, and Marcus Bingham has also been playing well. Noah Locke has been the best player for the Cardinals, and there is no one else after that. Does Samuell Williamson finally take that leap that most expected? Time will tell; however, the Spartans seem to be finding their groove, making it seem likely that they win.
Nebraska at NC State | 7:15 p.m. | ESPNU
Nebraska has Bryce McGowens and Alonzo Verge, but it doesn’t seem like enough for the Cornhuskers. The offense and defense have been average, and NC State has actually looked like a formidable team. The Wolfpack beat a good Louisiana Tech team and lost by six to a good Oklahoma State team. Dereon Seabron has been great and Jericole Hellems dropped 31 points in the most recent game against Louisiana Tech. The offense and defense has been better than Nebraska, meaning the win will go to the Wolfpack. Verge and McGowens are good players, but the Wolfpack have been a considerably better team this year.
Virginia Tech at Maryland | 7:15 p.m. | ESPN2
Maryland seems to be falling apart after close wins against Hofstra and Richmond and losses to Louisville and George Mason. Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell are bonafide scorers for the Terrapins, but something has not been clicking offensively. The defense seems to be there, but when the offense is struggling to score, the team is doomed. Virginia Tech has good offense and defense although they went 0-2 in the NIT Invitational; however, both games were extremely close and against top 25 teams. You better believe that the Hokies are looking to make a statement. Keve Aluma has to find his groove, so why not find it now against a formidable Maryland team? The Hokies should win this game, but it should be another fun one to watch.
Miami at Penn State | 9:15 p.m. | ESPNU
Isaiah Wong and Kameron McGusty look to lead the Hurricanes past a scrappy Penn State team. Seth Lundy and Sam Sessoms are bonafide scorers for the Nittany Lions, so this should be an exciting matchup. This game is a coin toss. If Miami can find its defense, then Miami should be able to take this game; however, Miami has struggled mightily on the defensive end, which Penn State should be able to use to its advantage. I think Miami makes it all come together and is able to pull off a win on Penn State’s home court. They may not be the flashiest, but the Hurricanes will be able to get it done.
Michigan at North Carolina | 9:15 p.m. | ESPN
Both of these teams have struggled mightily to start the season. Michigan has the talent but lost to Seton Hall and was massacred by Arizona; North Carolina lost to Purdue and Tennessee while almost losing to Brown. There’s still hope for Michigan. Hunter Dickinson is still great albeit suffering from a slight decrease and Eli Brooks has emerged as a viable scoring option. The Wolverines just have to mesh well together, which is why this game is a great starting point for them. North Carolina has been amazing offensively but has been a disaster on defense. Hubert Davis better have his team in a different mindset or Michigan will be able to score all over the Tar Heels. Armando Bacot vs Dickinson should be fun and other players can emerge at any time.
North Carolina can’t be trusted with that defense, so Michigan is the pick here, clinching the win for the Big Ten. The offense can only carry North Carolina so far.
Wisconsin at Georgia Tech | 9:15 p.m. | ESPN2
What a final game. Wisconsin seemed like a lost cause until it won the Maui Invitational, and Georgia Tech has some fun guards. For the Yellow Jackets, Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher can score the ball at will; however, Wisconsin has Johnny Davis, who has looked amazing, plus a top ten defense. You can bet that Brad Davison is going to draw a couple of charges and get aggressive with the Yellow Jackets. There’s only so much that Devoe and Usher can do. It just won’t be enough to counteract the hot streak that Wisconsin is having.
ACC Big Ten Challenge Prediction
The Big Ten ends up taking the crown again this year. In a seemingly down year for both conferences, the Big Ten appears to be slightly superior.
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