Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Badgers, Other Top Contenders Set for Exciting Field
ACC/Big Ten Challenge Set for Exciting Contests Between Top Contenders
The ACC/ Big Ten Challenge tips off on Monday evening and will run to Wednesday evening with a variety of premier match ups on slate over the three days. This marks the 18th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which will be shown across ESPN platforms for the coming days. All fourteen of the Big Ten’s members will be in action against all but one of the ACC Schools (Boston College). Its a field that will see some of the best contests in recent memory as 14 of the teams in the field were NCAA tournament teams just a year ago. The blue bloods of the conference will meet over the three days, so you’ll have plenty of quality college basketball to get you through the week.
The action of the challenge begins tonight, but the quality games tip off tomorrow night as our own Wisconsin Badgers will take host to the Syracuse Orange. This matchup is the same as the thriller we saw just a season ago at Syracuse, as the Badgers got a big victory to help their tournament campaign. Wisconsin won the thriller in overtime over Syracuse 66-58.
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The Orange come in at 4-1 sitting at 22 in the AP Top 25 Poll while Wisconsin comes in at 5-2 sitting ranked at 18. It will be the third top 25 matchup of the season for the Badgers, who have endured a tough early season schedule. The Badgers have played rather poorly in the other two tough matchups, with star players struggling in each.
Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig have yet to find themselves as the #1 scoring threats so far this season. In years past, Koenig and Hayes have been dominating players in their respective roles, but have yet to find their footing this season as the #1 option thus far. Both stars, along with Forward Ethan Happ will need to step up in this game to score a quality victory.
One thing to out for in the matchup is how the Badger attack the famous Syracuse 2-3 defense. Wisconsin has yet to find their perimeter shooting, despite firing up more attempts than any other season. If the Badgers are unable to penetrate the quality defense, they may struggle to score if they are forced to rely on perimeter shooting. Senior guard Andrew White III leads the Orange in scoring, and will be a tough matchup for whoever Coach Gard decides to line up against him. The Badgers tip off at 6:30 Tuesday Night on ESPN.
Other Notable Matchups
Michigan State vs. Duke
Michigan State sits at 4-3, and have endured one of the toughest schedules in College Basketball to start the season. It doesn’t get any easier for Sparty, as they face the 5th ranked Duke Blue Devils who sit at 6-1. Duke has been banged up early in the season, so it will be interesting to see how Michigan State matches up with the Blue Devils if they get their full roster on the floor.
Indiana vs. North Carolina
Indiana plummeted in the rankings as they dropped ten spots from 3 to 13. They’re still looking to recover from the shocking loss to IPFW, but have a chance to get another quality win against 4th ranked North Carolina. The Tar Heels come in off a tournament win over in Maui, in which they beat the Badgers in the Maui Invitational Championship. The Heels look like the deepest and most experience team in basketball, and could be the top contender with the gold standard of Kentucky. Both teams really run the floor well, so if you like high tempo basketball, this is the game for you.
Purdue vs. Louisville
Purdue and Louisville both come into the game at 5-1, but the Boilermakers have looked like the weaker team so far this season. They are a favorite to come out on top of the Big Ten, but have struggled in the turnover category. The key factor in the game will be how Purdue handles Louisville defensive pressure on the road. The KFC Yum Center isn’t an easy place to play, and could rattle the Boilermakers if they don’t take care of the basketball.
Pittsburgh vs. Maryland
Two teams that have both played exciting basketball so far this season have been these two. Maryland is 7-0 so far this season, and all seven games have been decided by an average of seven points. They come off a thriller win against Kansas State, and have a tough opponent in Pitt. Pitt comes in at 5-1, and playing many close games as well. These two programs were once conference foes before Maryland joined the Big Ten. Pitt plays a similar style to Wisconsin Basketball, so the matchup could show a lot on how Maryland will play Wisconsin later in the season.