Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge Set

The match-ups for the next ACC/Big Ten Challege are set, and will take place between November 29th and December 1st. It's nice to think that we're only about six months away from those games (in fact, we're only about five months from Midnight Madness, so the season isn't as far away as you might think). The full schedule is here.

It's always hard to project individual games because of the randomness inherent, but after finally winning their first ever Challenge I believe that the Big Ten is in a good position to win another. The ACC will be strong again next season, but the Big Ten should be outstanding. There are four Big Ten teams that are going to get at least a little bit of Top Ten hype heading into the season (Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan State). I don't think Ohio State really deserves Top Ten hype, but they'll be Top 25 for sure. And Wisconsin deserves some Top 25 buzz after shoring up their backcourt by grabbing Ben Brust last week (everybody knows they'll have an outstanding frontcourt) to complete a very good recruiting class. Throw in Minnesota and Northwestern teams that both have NCAA Tournament talent, along with an Indiana team that should be much improved, and the Big Ten should be very deep.

Obviously some teams are still trying to complete their rosters, so I'll have more thoughts as we get closer to November, but here are my initial thoughts on who should be favored in each game:

ACC team favored (5):
North Carolina at Illinois - This is the best game other than the MSU/Duke game. Great match-up between two teams thinking about deep NCAA Tournament runs.
Michigan at Clemson - I'm not too high on either team, but Clemson should be better and they'll have homecourt advantage.
Iowa at Wake Forest - Possibly the worst game, with both teams rebuilding. It's worth watching only to study how both new head coaches are doing. Wake should be the better team, however.
Michigan State at Duke - Definitely the premier game. It's possible that these teams will be ranked #1/#2 in the country when this game tips. I'm giving the edge for homecourt.
Indiana at Boston College - This game is close to a toss-up. If any more Boston College players transfer out than I might make an improved Indiana team the favorite.

Big Ten team favored (6):
Virginia at Minnesota - Minnesota is a bubble team, Virginia is in complete rebuilding mode.
Ohio State at Florida State - Should be a close game, but Florida State's offense is really going to struggle.
Georgia Tech at Northwestern - Northwestern will have their best ever chance at an NCAA Tournament, and they'll sense this as a huge game for their resume.
Purdue at Virginia Tech - Virginia Tech is getting some Top 25 buzz, but I don't think they're quite that good. Purdue is a Final Four contender.
NC State at Wisconsin - NC State should be improved after getting a very strong recruiting class, but I think they'll only be a bubble team with so little returning. Wisconsin will be better, and they're always so much better at home than away from home.
Maryland at Penn State - This might surprise some people, but Penn State was a lot better than their record suggested last season. They'll be further improved with Battle back along with newcomer Taran Buie, and Maryland will have a big drop-off from last season.

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