Monday, November 30, 2009

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge starts tonight: is it the Big Ten's time to shine?

Tonight kicks off the 11th installment of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

And for those of you who don't follow the ACC or the Big Ten too closely, this event has been dominated by the ACC.

When I say dominated, I mean dominated: the Big Ten has never won the challenge. In the ten years it has been in existence, the ACC has an overall record of 62-35, and only five times has the Big Ten lost the challenge by one game.


But with a favorable schedule this season, 2009 may be the year that the Big Ten finally gets off the schneid.


7:00 pm: Penn State (4-2) @ Virginia (4-2): The Cavs are 0-2 against BCS opponents, having lost at South Florida and to Stanford in Cancun. Having said that, Penn State has two losses to mid-major opponents and has struggled to beat powerhouses like Davidson and Sacred Heart. Virginia is 3-0 at home, including blow outs of Rider and Oran Roberts, and own a victory over Cleveland State on a neutral court.

BIAH's pick: Virginia


7:00 pm: Wake Forest @ Purdue: Wake Forest will have the best player on the floor on Tuesday as Al-Farouq Aminu has been playing great basketball early in the season. Ishmael Smith, who had a promising freshman season before playing second fiddle to Jeff Teague in the back court the past two years, also finally looks like the Ish Smith we remember. But Purdue is good this year. Really good. They have already proven they can beat a team that wants to play uptempo (a 73-72 win over a good Tennessee team) and can be very tough in Mackey Arena. Purdue is excellent at controlling tempo, which makes one question whether the Demon Deacons are disciplined enough to pull off the upset.

BIAH's pick: Purdue

7:00 pm: Northwestern @ NC State: Princeton offense versus princeton offense. Don't expect either school to be fooled or unprepared on the defensive end. This game is going to come down to talent and execution, and Northwestern, who is coming off of wins against Notre Dame and Iowa State, looks to have advantage. If John Shurna can outplay both Luke Harangody and Craig Brackins, he should have a field day against Tracy Smith.

BIAH's pick: Northwestern

7:30 pm: Maryland @ Indiana: Greivis Vasquez has let to play up to his potential, and as a result, Maryland has struggled quite a bit early this season. But Indiana is still a few years away from being Indiana. Even though they are improved this season, the Hoosiers have lost three games this season, two of them coming against BU and George Mason.

BIAH's pick: Maryland

9:00 pm: Michigan State @ UNC: Both Michigan State and UNC have fallen aways from where they were last season - atop the polls and in the title game. The Spartans are not going to be as big inside as the Heels, but Drayond Green, Delvon Roe, and company should be able to with compete the muscle of the Heels. The issue is going to be in the back court. Will Larry Drew be effective against a very good Spartan back court? Can Durrell Summers and Chris Allen be scoring threats against Will Graves and Marcus Ginyard?

BIAH's pick: Michigan State

9:30 pm: Virginia Tech @ Iowa: Iowa has already lost home games to Duquesne and Texas-San Antonio, and neither of those teams were as good as the Hokies. And neither team has a Malcolm Delaney.

BIAH's pick: Virginia Tech


7:15 pm: Illinois @ Clemson: The Illini had a terrible trip to Vegas, as they lost games to Utah (after blowing a 16 point halftime lead) and Bradley. Now they have to head to Littlejohn Coliseum to take on a Clemson team that is going to pressure the Illini back court for 40 minutes. Will the two freshman and Demetri McCamey (who was ripped by Bruce Weber in the press after the loss) be able to handle the pressure? Can the Illini handle Trevor Booker inside?

BIAH's pick: Clemson

7:15 pm: Minnesota @ Miami FL: The Hurricanes have been playing some great basketball so far this season, including a run to the title in the Charleston Classic. But the Canes best win is over a South Carolina team that lost Dominique Archie just seven minutes into the game. While the Gophers had a less than stellar performance out in Anaheim, this is a team that is big, athletic, and very good defensively. It is going to be quite a test for Miami.

BIAH's pick: Minnesota

7:30 pm: Boston College @ Michigan: Manny Harris is fast becoming a kid you have to consider for Big Ten Player of the Year. But the Wolverines have struggled as a team, as they are shooting just 30% from three. Boston College as not been playing great basketball either, losing two out of their last four games. Rakim Sanders has played just four minutes this season as he was suspended for two games and has been hobbled by a sprained ankle. Forward Joe Trapani has been playing well, as has point guard Reggie Jackson. The Eagles are going to need those two to show up if they want to beat the Wolverines zone defense.

BIAH's pick: Michigan

9:15 pm: Duke @ Wisconsin: Duke is built like your typical Wisconsin team. Big inside, good guard play, a couple of shooters, and tough defense. They just happen to be more talented and athletic than the Badgers. The question is how will the Blue Devils play in an always tough Kohl Center.

BIAH's pick: Duke

9:30 pm: Florida State @ Ohio State: A true point guard may not see the floor throughout this entire game. Florida State has a distinct size advantage over the Buckeyes, but the Seminoles bigs don't always play up to their height. Chris Singleton did an excellent job slowing down Lazar Hayward against Marquette in the Old Spice finals, but will he be able to do the same against a more talented Evan Turner? The Noles are shooting very well from deep early on this season, but will they be able to hit them if OSU packs in their defense?

BIAH's pick: Ohio State

If the games play out the way we foresee, then the Big Ten wins this thing 6-5.

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