Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Big Ten/ACC Challenge

So, the ACC is 10-0 during the existence of the Big Ten/ACC challenge, sneaking by some years 6-5 and dominating 7-2 in others. But the prevailing logic is that the Big Ten has a puncher's chance in the challenge this year, and definitely got a big lift last night when Penn State took down Virginia after trailing big in the first half.

With the Big Ten taking a 1-0 lead, the conference needs 5 more wins to take home the title this year. Of the games on the slate, the most winnable include Purdue/Wake Forest,  Minnesota/Miami, Michigan/Boston College (about more which tomorrow), and Ohio State/Florida State. If any of the Big Ten squads comes out of one of those games a loser, it might get tight for the conference, and it'll have to rely on Northwestern, Indiana, and Iowa to pull out victories in what appear to be coin flips at best.

I think it's safe to give Duke/Wisconsin to the ACC (that is unless Duke has another poor shooting performance like they did when Michigan beat them last year), and I think that MSU/UNC is going to be an incredibly close game that eventually goes the way of UNC--don't be surprised to see MSU win this, though, and convincingly if they shoot well. My tentative picks for the rest of the challenge:

Big Ten Record
Wake Forest
NC State
North Carolina
Michigan State
Virginia Tech
Boston College
Florida State
Ohio State

Maybe that's a little pie in the sky, but Ohio State, Minnesota, and Purdue should all wrap up their games quickly and without much flare (Ohio State getting the toughest draw of the three). Michigan, I'll talk about later, is going to end up being one of the swing games, and will largely depend on how well Michigan shoots the rock. UNC, Duke, and Va Tech should all win, the latter two convincingly. Indiana has a chance against Maryland, and may actually come out ahead (this team is just waiting to explode into something great). And frankly, I think Illinois holds onto the ball well enough and can score at a steady enough pace that they will stave off Clemson, much like Michigan did in the Tournament last year.

Worst case scenario for the Big Ten, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, and Northwestern all lose, and, combined with the victories by Duke and UNC, the Big Ten loses the challenge for the 11th straight year--this year, finishing 4-7. Best case scenario is a little rosier: MSU or Wisconsin upsets their counterparts, the rest of the board above holds true (it's probably a little optimistic as it is) and the Big Ten finishes 8-3, maybe 9-2 if Iowa somehow beats Va Tech. But these things are unlikely and in the world of college basketball where college psyches and inconsistency rule, weird things happen.


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