Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Ten/ACC midway + Boston College preview

So the Big Ten/ACC Challenge went exactly as I expected it to yesterday and the conferences sit tied at 3-3. The Penn State win over Virginia on night one looms large now as the slate gets considerably tougher for the Big Ten tonight. At this point, it's a race to three wins, and the Big Ten is favored in all of one or two tonight. But as has been widely discussed, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota all dropped from the rankings this week and are probably all a little better than their loss-scattered records indicate.

The best game of the night is probably going to be Clemson vs. Illinois. Clemson comes in ranked #19 in the country, and Illinois just dropped out of the rankings from #20 after back-to-back losses to Utah and Bradley. I just think that this Illinois team is too deep and takes care of the ball too well to lose to a Clemson team that Michigan knows well from the tournament last year. Clemson will be playing this one at home, but I look for Mike Tisdale to have a big game down low against undersized defenders.

Though Miami may be a sleeper against Minnesota, I think that ultimately, Minnesota is a better all around team and ends up running away with this one sometime in the second half. This and the Ohio State game, which I'm putting firmly in the grip of the Buckeyes, are the two games that I feel most comfortable with the Big Ten chances tonight. And in terms of Duke/Wisconsin, the Badgers have a chance if they're able to bother Duke with their size and rebound effectively. The fact that this one is in Wisconsin will play a big role, and Badger faithful will need to hope that Duke has trouble finding their shot. I think eventually Duke goes on a shooting rampage and hits a bunch of threes in the second half to catch up and beat Wisconsin. Then finally...

Boston College @ Michigan

First a note about basketball previews in general: I probably won't be previewing a whole ton of nonconference basketball games seeing as their umpteen million college basketball teams and I don't know anything about any of them. I don't even really know that much about Boston College, but a yeoman's effort I shall give.

First, you can read more complete previews at UMHoops and MGoBlog.

So as has been widely publicized, BC is missing a whole mess of players and the ones that they have may be forced into quarantine--a team full of Brandon Minors and Junior Heminways. Either way, BC is a good squad and is coming off of a solid road win against Providence. Michigan is coming off back-to-back losses in the Old Spice Classic and returns home after a needed rest (this team simply doesn't perform well on short rest; didn't last year and it's shaping up to be a problem this year already).

But none of that matters. The thing that is going to determine tonight's game is how well Michigan shoots from beyond the arc. They are a dismal 30% on the year and shot only 26% during the Old Spice Classic. In Michigan's one win in the tournament (against Creighton), the team was on track for a loss until Stu Douglass rained in a deep, deep three. And against Alabama, Michigan only lost by two despite shooting 24% (6-25) from 3-point. A lot has been made of the lack of Michigan's defense in the past few days, and while it has looked porous, it hasnt' cost Michigan a game yet. Hopefully coming back to Crisler will cure some of the shooting ills and Michigan will be able to pull out a victory.


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