With this year's Big Ten - ACC Challenge schedule being released yesterday we thought we'd take a look at these games, rank the match-ups, and make some very early predictions. As a fan of the Big Ten, I love this event because it allows all of us midwesterners to look beyond our hate for each other and feel a sense of conference pride. For two days we come toegether and root for each other. The Big Ten is currently on a 3 year win streak, while previously losing all previous 10 meetings from 1999-2009.
Match-up Rankings and Analysis
12. Boston College at Penn State, Wednesday Nov 28th
These two teams finished at the bottom of their respective conferences last year, so it's pretty safe to say this won't be a battle between two juggernauts. Considering Boston College hasn't had a solid season in quite some time, look for Penn State to give the B1G a easy home win.
Prediction: Penn State
11. Nebraska at Wake Forest, Tuesday November 27th
This also won't too great of a game. Nebraska is losing Bo Spencer while Wake Forest is a young inexperienced squad. This should be a close one but in the end Wake Forest will take it on it's home floor.
Prediction: Wake Forest
10. Georgia Tech at Illinois, Wednesday Nov 28th
At the lower end of the rankings, this is still an interesting matchup. Illinois, who is losing their best player in center Meyers Leonard, will be a guard heavy team next year. Georgia Tech is a team who's bringing in 3 four star reqruits next year after an awful previous season. Illinois is a team who choked many times at home last year, so I think it's a very realistic possibility that GT could come in and steal a road game here.
Prediction: Georgia Tech
9. Maryland at Northwestern, Tuesday November 27th
Northwestern is losing their top player John Shurna next season after a dissapointing campaign this year, in which they failed to make the NCAA tournament again. Maryland on the other hand is a rising team in the ACC and could easily come in and beat Northwestern. But I think the Wildcats will come out with some conference pride out win.
8. Iowa at Virginia Tech, Tuesday November 27th
Iowa is losing their best player in Matt Gatens, but they're still a young talented team on the rise. Virginia Tech on the other hand had an awful season last year and probably won't be too great next year either. Look for Iowa to go in and steal a road win for the Big Ten.
7. Purdue at Clemson, Wednesday Nov 28th
Purdue is yet another team losing a key senior, Robbie Hummel. However they are still a solid team with a lot of great perimeter shooters. Clemson is also losing a few key seniors, but they have 5 high rated reqruits coming in. The Tigers will be a rising team in the ACC the next few years and Purdue will not beat that on this night.
6. No. 9 Michigan State at Miami, Wednesday Nov 28th
Michigan State is losing their star in Draymond Green, but the Spartans are still one of the country's most talented teams. Miami is a program that hasn't seen a whole lot of sunlight these past few years. However, Miami just missed the NCAA tourney last year and won a game in the NIT. I call this game an upset alert for MSU. Miami is going to give them all they can handle on their home floor. However Michigan State's talent will prevail in the end.
Prediction: Michigan State
5. Virginia at No. 22 Wisconsin, Wednesday Nov 28th
These are two defensive minded teams that run slow offensive styles. Virginia had a bounce-back year last season finishing 4th in the ACC and making the NCAA tournament. We all know Wisconsin will be losing their floor general Jordan Taylor and that could have a big effect early in the season. Last time the Badger's hosted a B1G-ACC challenge game the Kohl Center crowd was rushing the floor after an upset over Duke. You would think this would be a easy win for the Badger's, but with last years performances at home, you can never be too sure.
4. No. 25 Minnesota at Florida State, Tuesday November 27th
This game is my sleeper matchup. Florida State, coming off their ACC Championship last season, is a team that loves to run and gun and shoot the three. Minnesota returns Center Trevor Mbakwe, who had a dominant start to last year before having a season ending injury. This will be an exciting, fast paced game between two well coached teams. In the end, I think Minnesota's big men will be too much for the guard heavy Seminoles.
3. No. 8 Ohio State at No. 15 Duke, Wednesday Nov 28th
Both teams are losing star underclassmen to the draft this year (Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Duke's Austin Rivers), but both are still very good teams. Last year's matchup between these two teams was OSU blowing out the Blue Devils in Columbus. But this year will surely be a different story. Duke always has a good chance to win when they're playing in front of the Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd. OSU will have all it can handle, and I can't see them pulling this one out.
2. No. 6 NC State at No. 5 Michigan, Tuesday November 27th
NC State, who this past season landed 3 four star reqruits, will be a very young explosive squad next year. The three freshman they have coming in- SG Rodney Purvis, SF TJ Warren, and PG Tyler Lewis- gave the experts enough reason to give NC State a #6 pre-season ranking. Michigan, who is coming off a share of the regular season B1G title, is led by Sophomore Trey Burke who had a sensational Freshman season, winning co-freshman of the year. This will be a huge test for the young Wolfpack squad, as they'll have to face a talented Michigan team and a hostile crowd. I think the Wolfpack will surprise a lot of people by coming in and getting a huge victory in Ann Arbor.
Prediction: NC State
1. No. 13 North Carolina at No. 1 Indiana, Tuesday November 27th
This game is definately the most intruiging to me. This is a UNC squad lost four starters- Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall Marshall- this past year to the draft. Indiana is the complete opposite having all but one of their starters returning. Indiana, a team on the uprise, is expected to be national championship contenders next season-hence their #1 preseason ranking. In front of a hostile Assembly Hall crowd, the young North Carolina squad will have to show a lot of heart to win this game. It's also going to be a big test for the Hoosiers. This game will likely show if they're ready to be an elite squad once again. I'm not going to bet against them at Assembly Hall.
So there you have it, in my WAY too early predictions, the Big Ten will win the Challenge 7-5. A much closer race then previous years, but I do have a feeling this will come down to just a few games. Now all we can do is wait for basketball season and see how ridiculous some of these predictions actually turn out to be. Either way the 2012 Big Ten-ACC challenge is guarenteed to be exciting, especially with some of the super-power teams facing off this year. November 27th couldn't come sooner, could it?