It's officially that time of year again, the BIG TEN/ACC Challenge is here. Or should we call this an event since the BIG TEN has never actually won (or really made it a 'challenge') since the event started in 1999. While this year should be no different the Big Ten might be able to compete a bit more this year due to the youth up and down the roster's of several ACC teams....By the way, I advise that any true college basketball fans watch as many UNC games as you can this year, you could be watching history. What I mean by that is that they might not lose a game all season long. They are one of the few college basketball teams that I've seen that combine top tier returning talent with top tier incoming freshmen. Honestly, how many college basketball programs can make the claim that they have more McDonald's high school all americans on their bench than in their starting lineup? I can't think of any. With that said. Here are the matchups:
BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE:
#22 Wisconsin 74 - Virginia Tech 72 (box score)
The Badgers, led by guard Trevon Hughes (14 ppg) and forward Marcus Landry (12.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg), are 5-1 and typically play tremendous defense. Their one defeat came to the only legitimate team they have played thus far, UCONN, and that's not a bad loss at all. Virginia Tech comes into tonight's game with three players averaging over 10 points per game and a bit more
firepower than the Badgers. Lead by the trio of power forward Jeff Allen, shooting guard A.D. Vassallo, and point man Malcolm Delaney (each average 16 points per game) the Hokies have a talented squad that should more than be able to compete at home. Cassell Coliseum is a tough place to play (ask Duke) and the Badgers might have some issues with the atmosphere.
ACC Ballers pick: Virgina Tech.
The number 22 ranked Badgers controlled this game until the last few minutes when Virginia Tech guards got hot. The Hokie backcourt of senior A.D. Vassallo and sophomore point guard Malcolm Delaney went off at the end of the game to bring Tech storming back into the game late. Vassallo's 3 with seven seconds tied the game at 72 and sent the Hokie crowd into a frenzy. Unfortunately for the Hokies the crowd was silenced shortly after as Badger guard Trevon Hughes dribbled the length of the court and hit a pull up jumper from about 10 feet to give his team the 74-72 lead with less than a second in the game. The footage probably does a better job of describing this than I can. See for yourself.
Iowa 55 - Boston College 57 (box score)
Iowa is young and Boston College will have the top player in the game in 6'1 guard Tyrese Rice. Look for him to score early and often. While I don't think BC will win many this year they should win this one.
ACC Ballers pick: Boston College
This game was very close and came down to a missed free throws by Iowa freshman Andrew Brommer with .4 seconds left. These free throws were awarded after a 'suspect' loose ball foul call on BC guard Corey Raji. BC senior point guard Tyrese Rice paced the Eagles with 15 points.
Ohio State 73 - #22 Miami 68 (same # of votes as Wisconsin) (box score)
The number 22 ranked Canes' are flying high after a couple of blowout wins against San Diego and Stetson. To go along with Jack McClinton's 16 point average Miami junior forward Dwayne Collins is averaging a 13.6 and 10 boards a game. On the other hand, the 3-0 Buckeyes are very young as they rely on a handful of freshman and sophomore's to play the majority of the minutes. This is also their first true test as Ohio State has not played anyone of note to date. They also haven't played outside of the state of Ohio.
ACC Ballers pick: Miami
After hitting 4 three point shots in the first 8 minutes of the game, the U's Jack McClinton got hit with an ejection after he retaliated to smack by Buckeye guard Anthony Crater with a smack of his own. The issue for McClinton was that Crater hit the floor, garnering the attention of the officials, who then looked at replays and determined that Jack had to exit state right. However unfair, this completely turned the game. Slowly but surely Ohio State climbed back into the game behind 20 points from sophomore two guard Jon Diebler.
Clemson 76 - Illinois 74 (box score)
Illinois is off to a great start (6-0) and have four players averaging double figures led by sophomore power forward Mike Davis. The Illini have several young players that they ask to contribute but this talented group looks like they are coming together fine. Senior point guard Chester Frazier from Charm City (Baltimore), 'Murlin' is averaging 7 assists per game and should be able to control the tempo for Bruce Weber and the Illini.
ACC Ballers Pick: Illinois
Sophomore forward Mike Davis (Alexandria, VA) poured in 28 points for the Illini but it was Clemson, powered by 4 starters reaching double digits in scoring, that carvered out the win. The game changed when Clemson decided to bring it on D. The Tigers' forced Illinois' into 17 turnovers in the second half to come back and take the lead in a game that they were trailing in at the half. Clemson would eventually catch a break at the end as Illinois guard Demetri McCamey failed to get a shot off as time expired.
#4 Duke 76 - #10 Purdue 60 (box score)
Great great game here. Duke has 4 experienced players leading them in scoring and Coach K has considerably more talent on his bench this year than last year. The Boilermakers have a good bit of talent returning as well with guard E'twaun Moore and forward Robbie Hummel back in the fold. The Robbie Hummel vs. Kyle Singler matchup should be fun to watch as both have similar size (each around 6'9, 215lbs) and similar styles on the court. I think Duke has too much talent to lose to this team and will take care of Purdue at some point in the second half. If Purdue can keep the game close at the end they will have a shot but I still favor Duke in this one.
ACC Baller's Pick: Duke
Coach K and the Blue Devils put Purdue in its place from the onset. Kyle Singler and John Scheyer each scored 20 in a rout of the Boilermakers on the road. The store of the game was the defensive pressure Duke put on the Boilermakers backcourt. Purdue was held to just 37% shooting from the field and start guard E'Twan Moore never really got into a rhythm. In typical Duke fashion they exposed the weaknesses of this young Purdue team in route to yet another W for the Dukies.
Virginia 56 - Minnesota 66 (box score)
Pretty decent matchup of programs that are both playing young players in hopes of success a year or two from now. Tubby Smith's Gophers have played well and have rode junior guard Lawrence Westbrook (14 ppg) to a 6-0 start. The rest of the team is still coming together and while they are at home, the Cavs have more talent and should pull this out. Big time freshman Sylven Landesberg leads Virginia in scoring (20ppg) and sophomore power forward Mike Scott puts in work on the glass (11 rpg). The difference in this game will be Virginia's overall talent and size down low.
ACC Baller's Pick: Virginia
Tubby Smith's Gophers forced the Cavaliers into 18 turnovers and basically controlled the game from midway in the first half. The pressure applied by guard Al Nolen was too much for the young and inexperienced backcourt of Virginia. In a game that pitted freshman Center Ralph Sampson III against his dad's former team, Gophers simply hit shots when they needed to and allowed the Cavaliers to give them the game. Junior forward Jamil Tucker lead the Cavaliers in scoring with 12 points.
Indiana 58 - #17 Wake Forest 83
This would be a great game if everybody and their mom didn't leave Bloomington in the tumultuous off season the Hoosiers had. Wake Forest has an advantage in almost every department (size, skill, athleticism) and shouldn't have a problem with this group of Hoosiers. Jeff Teague (21 ppg, 57% 3 point shoting) and James Johnson (15ppg, 9 rpb) should lead the way for Wake in this one. Coach Creen's Hoosiers should be better next year when his highly rated 2009 class steps on campus.
ACC Baller's Pick: Wake Forest
This game wasn't really close as Wake Forest played with high level division one talent and Indiana have a few scholarship freshman and sophomores mixed in with a ton of walk-ons. This was evidenced here....
That was just 2 of James Johnson's 21 points. Super star freshman Al-Farouq Aminu dropped in 13 points and 9 boards in the rout.
Penn State 85 - Georgia Tech 83
This game should be better than people think but Penn State will get dominated down low. Georgia Tech has way too much quality size for the Nittany Lions to contend with. On the perimeter Penn State should be fine as guards Talor Battle and Stanley Pringle average 19 and 15 points per game respectively. Down low is where they will run into issues as their best post player, 6-5 power forward Jamelle Cornley, might have trouble with Tech's mammoth front line of Alade Aminu, Gani Lawal, and Zach Peacock who are averaging a combined 46 points and 23 rebounds per game.
ACC Baller's Pick: Georgia Tech
Penn State is much improved this year and it showed by the performance of the backcourt alone. Battle and Pringle went for 40 points and 10 assists in a hard fought and well played game in Atlanta. As predicted, Gani Lawal went to work and poured in 34 points and 1o boards but Penn State was able to squeak this one out. A last second runner from the three point line by stud freshman Iman Shumpert (14 points, 12 assists) hit high off the rim and out.
Michigan 70 - Maryland 75
While this is a home game for the Terps it's a tough matchup for them as well. Coach Williams' young team will have it's hands full with Michigan's 1-3-1 zone defense. They key in this game is how well the young Terrapin big men will be able to defend the paint. Michigan has a beast down low in DeShawn Sims who randomly comes off the bench (the reason given is that Beilein wanted to have some scoring punch in the second unit. Don't make sense to me) but puts up huge numbers and was instrumental in the Wolverine's victory over previously #4 UCLA at MSG earlier this year. Unless Greivis Vasquez and the rest of the Terps play like they did in the Michigan State game I don't see them beating Michigan.
ACC Baller's Pick: Michigan
Michigan's 1-3-1 zone did not slow Maryland down as much as I antipated it would. The Terrapin guards showed great poise and even more importantly, so did big forward Dino Gregory. Dino put up 6 ponts, 7 boards, and a block in about 26 minutes. Doesn't seem like gaudy numbers but he was a force in the paint for the Terps and a positive sign for the rest of their season. Greivis Vasquez went to work again as he put up 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists.
#1 North Carolina 98 - #12 Michigan State 63
North Carolina will win, because nobody can beat them....I shouldn't say anything more because this is basically the truth. Michigan State has no shot at winning this game, esp. if Goran Sutton is out. Regardless, Sutton hasn't practiced in weeks and he won't be much of a factor I can imagine. It's hard to imagine UNC's Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Hansbrough, Ed Davis, Danny Green, and Deon Thompson will choose the same night to have a bad game. North Carolina is better at every position on the court in almost every way you can be better that someone else at basketball. This is as elementary as I can put it.
ACC Baller's Pick: North Carolina
This was a blowout from the opening tip. The Spartans, who haven't been playing particularly well, got ran out of Ford Field. The confusing part of the game was that the Spartans tried to play at Carolina's speed. That's not a formula for success against the Heels. Tyler Hansbrough went for 25 and 11 while Ty Lawson 17 points, 8 assists, and a ridiculous 7 steals. Carolina won this game by 35 points without playing any starter more than 28 minutes. Carolina's walk-ons got considerable time in this game. This is 9th man William Graves catching an oop from Lawson.
Florida State 59 - Northwestern 73
Florida State is too athletic for this Wildcats team and that should be evident from the jump ball. The only factor that NU has in their favor is the home court. I suspect the crowd will help them out early but the Seminoles have too much firepower for this team. As long as senior guard Toney Douglas (19 points, 2.3 assists per game) is effective and can stay out of foul trouble, the Seminoles should win easy. Look for freshman phenom Chris Singleton to have a monster day on the boards.
ACC Baller's Pick: Florida State
This was a truly bad performance by Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles as they got beat by 14 points to a not so great Wildcat team. Florida State's youth showed up in this game as Northwestern forced them into 21 turnovers, 7 of those by their best player Toney Douglas. NU guard Craig Moore played all 40 minutes and scored 20 points in the process. This was a huge win for their program and a telling loss for the Noles.
ACC Ballers Dunk of the Week:
Wake Forest's sophomore guard Jeff Teague gettin' up on Cal State Fullerton at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, California.....