Big Ten/ACC Challenge Preview

Miami (FL) at Illinois 12/2

My Prediction: Illinois 78 Miami (FL) 68

Illinois only has one loss this year and it was on the road to a very talented Arizona team. The Illini have two post presences in Kofi Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili that will give a lot of teams trouble this year. Miami’s three losses all come againstformidable opponents (UConn, Florida and Louisville), but the Illini will be too much to handle at home for the hurricanes.

Clemson at Minnesota 12/2

My Prediction: Clemson 68 Minnesota 66

Clemson’s two losses have come in their opener to Virginia Tech and against a Colorado team ranked #20. Minnesota has dropped games to Oklahoma, Butler, Utah and DePaul. This is Clemson’s first road game, but I still have to give the edge to the Tigers even on the road.

Northwestern at Boston College 12/3

My Prediction: Northwestern 67 Boston College 63

Northwestern is young and one of the most inconsistent teams so far. With losses to Merrimack and Radford and wins against Providence and Bradley, it’s hard to know what to expect from the Wildcats. Boston College is coming off three straight losses to DePaul, Saint Louis and Richmond. Tough to tell which Northwestern will show up, but I’m going to pick against a struggling Boston College right now.

Iowa at Syracuse 12/3

My Prediction: Iowa 72 Syracuse 66

When you play Syracuse, success starts with how you attack the zone. Iowa has multiple shooters in Joe Wieskamp, Jordan Bohannon and CJ Fredrick. Luka Garza will always be a presence down low and on the boards. Syracuse is coming off back to back double digit losses to Oklahoma State and Penn State. I like the Hawkeyes to shoot well against the zone and get a solid road win at the Carrier Dome.

Michigan at Louisville 12/3

My Prediction: Michigan 73 Louisville 68 

All the hype is on the Duke and Michigan State showdown, but this one could be just as good. A battle of two 7-0 teams and it’s going to be a fun one to watch. First year head coach Juwan Howard has the Wolverines rolling after a Battle for Atlantis Tournament Title. Wins over Iowa State, North Carolina and Gonzaga have many wondering if Michigan might be the best team in the Big Ten. Louisville hasn’t played near the competition that Michigan has. Their best win was over Miami (FL) on opening night. Besides that, they have not faced a power five school. The Cardinals will have the home court advantage, but I have to go with the team that has beaten much higher quality opponents. Michigan might be playing the best ball in the country right now.

Florida State at Indiana 12/3

My Prediction: Florida State 72 Indiana 69

Indiana is 7-0, but has not yet faced a power five opponent. Florida State is 7-1 with their only loss coming opening night at Pittsburgh. They are coming off two big wins at the Emerald Coast Classic against Tennessee and Purdue. Winning at Indiana will be tough, but the Seminoles have been in high-level close games recently and I think they’ll pull it out.

Rutgers at Pittsburgh 12/3

My Prediction: Pittsburgh 69 Rutgers 60

Rutgers has improved from where they have been in years past. They are at 6-1 right now with wins over Stephen F Austin and Massachusetts. Pittsburgh is at 6-2 with losses against Nicholls State and West Virginia. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back wins against Kansas State and Northwestern and are playing pretty well at the moment. They are also back at home for this matchup and I like them to take this one.

Duke at Michigan State 12/3

My Prediction: Duke 73 Michigan State 72

A battle of two teams that have been at the #1 spot this year. They have both had their struggles so far with both teams losing games to unranked opponents. Duke has more upside in terms of straight talent, but Michigan State has more of the veteran presence and a great leader in Cassius Winston. This one should be a close one and I’m going to lean towards Duke in a close one because I think they have more options to score whereas the Spartans tend to go through Winston. That being said, Michigan State is at home and this one could go either way.

Virginia at Purdue 12/4

My Prediction: Virginia 56 Purdue 54

This one is going to be a lot of defense. Virginia is 7-0 and only one opponent has scored more than 50 points against them this year (Vermont- 55). This one will be low scoring and could come down to the end. Virginia might be as good as they were last year defensively, but they don’t have the same firepower on offense. The same could be said about Purdue. Losing Carsen Edwards has hurt and the offense still seems to be adjusting. I think Virginia pulls out a close one in West Lafayette.

Nebraska at Georgia Tech 12/4

My Prediction: Georgia Tech 69 Nebraska 67

Four of Georgia Tech’s five games have been decided by five points or less. This one could finish with the same narrative. Nebraska is still trying to find who they are under new coach Fred Hoiberg. Both teams have really struggled even against low and mid-major teams thus far. This will be Nebraska’s first true road game and that is a reason to lean towards Georgia Tech in this one. 

Notre Dame at Maryland 12/4

My Prediction: Maryland 75 Notre Dame 63

Maryland is ranked #3 in the country, but they have not been talked about much. They are 7-0 and coming off of a few strong victories (George Mason, Temple, Harvard and Marquette) and an Orlando Invitational Championship. Led by Anthony Cowan Jr, the Terrapins shouldn’t have too much of a problem with Notre Dame. Notre Dame started the season with a loss to North Carolina and haven’t lost since, but they haven’t faced a power five school in that run and really struggled with Toledo. Maryland is the easy pick for me in this one.

Wake Forest at Penn State 12/4

My Prediction: Penn State 76 Wake Forest 67

Penn State comes in at 6-1 and their only blemish was a game in which they blew a 16point lead to Ole Miss. They’re coming off a 21-point win against Syracuse and are my clear pick in this one. Wake Forest hung around with Arizona in their last game, but I can’t see them going into Penn State and coming out with a win.

Wisconsin at NC State 12/4

My Prediction: NC State 73 Wisconsin 66

Wisconsin is reeling right now. Back-to-back losses to Richmond and New Mexico have the badgers sitting at 4-3. They are struggling to find scoring and replace the hole left by Ethan Happ. NC State is coming off a close 5-point loss to Memphis in their last game, but the return home to Raleigh will be good for the Wolfpack. 

Ohio State at North Carolina 12/4

My Prediction: Ohio State 71 North Carolina 64

The last game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge will be a good one. Cole Anthony has been sensational so far; the question for UNC is whether a solid number two option appears at the offensive end. Ohio State is 7-0 and has been rolling through opponents. This is the first road game for the Buckeyes, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from them thus far. Kaleb Wesson provides the veteran presence down low, while DJ Carton is starting to emerge as a young star at the guard spot.

Overall Prediction- Big Ten: 7 ACC: 7

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