Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tied Going into Final Night

With the ACC going 3-2 against the Big Ten Tuesday night, they squared up the challenge and set up another ACC win based on the schedule tonight.

Last night Ohio State started things off with an upset win at Miami, but Iowa and Illinois likely killed the Big Ten's chances in the challenge with a pair of two point losses. Ohio State benefited from the ejection of Miami guard Jack McClinton after he bitch-slapped an OSU player; shocking from a Miami student-athlete. Illinois and Iowa both had chances to send their games to OT, but the Illini failed to get a shot off in the final 11 seconds and Iowa missed the front end of a 1 and 1 (that probably should have been a three-shot foul) with seconds left. Duke dominated Purdue throughout the game and Minnesota closed out the night with a win.

The win by the Gophers gives hope to the Big Ten, but not much. Here's what we're looking at tonight.

Indiana at (15) Wake Forest, 6:15 PM

The Hoosiers don't stand much of a chance in this game. I don't really know what a Hoosier is, but a Demon Deacon is not to be messed with. That's not the only reason though. Indiana has been anything but impressive early on with blowout losses to Notre Dame and St. Joes. Wake, meanwhile hasn't played much of anyone, but has looked great doing it. With Indiana looking sketchy and the game at Wake Forest, I'll pick the Demon Deacons to win this one.

Penn State at Georgia Tech, 6:30 PM

Add Penn State to the list of teams that has played absolutely no one yet this season, oh and look, add Georgia Tech. The Nittany Lions lost to Rhode Island, while GT has pulled out close games against Mercer and Jacksonville. Ron Mercer is kind of washed up and the Jags can't seem to beat anyone, so I don't see those wins as being too impressive. Based on the fact that this might be the Big Ten's best chance at a win, I'll pick Penn State.

Michigan at Maryland, 6:30 PM

Michigan might have the second best chance at a Big Ten win and that tells you a lot about the Big Ten's chances. Maryland is a killer at home, winning over 86% of their games in College Park over the past 10 years. The Terps have been a bit difficult to figure out thus far, beating Michigan State by 18, then losing to Gonzaga and Georgetown by 22 and 27, respectively. The Wolverines have an upset of their own against UCLA and a 15 point loss to Duke. With a young team rebuilding under Beilein, I think Michigan falls short at Maryland and the Terps get the win.

(1) North Carolina at (13) Michigan State, 8:15 PM

A week ago this looked like an unbelievable match-up. A possible Final Four preview, even at the Ford Field venue, which will host this year's Final Four. A week later, it looks like the Spartans will be lucky to keep things close. Tyler Hansbrough's health and availability was still in question as of Tuesday night, but the Spartans have health issues of their own with big man Goran Suton out and Delvin Roe limited. You can never count a Tom Izzo coached team out of any game, but this will be one of his toughest tasks against a Tar Heels team that has the best talent in the country. UNC wins and if this thing isn't decided already, the ACC wins the challenge.

Florida State at Northwestern, 8:30 PM

And for dessert, we get FSU and Northwestern. The Noles are 7-0 with wins at Cal and at Cincy coming into the game with Northwestern. The Wildcats, well they have won some game, but they're still Northwestern and this is basketball. I expect a loss.

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