I think it is far from certain just how good the ACC will be this basketball season. There are five ACC teams in the top 25 at the moment but the conference has taken some bad out of conference hits from losses by the football members of the league. Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College all have some embarrassing losses to start the year that won't help the league RPI come March.
This ACC-Big Ten challenge will help to correct some of those early stumbles or give ACC members reason to worry about how many Missouri Valley teams will be selected over the once great Atlantic Coast Conference.
Here is how I see the games breaking down:
Michigan at NC State
I had predicted a Michigan win in this game but given how terrible NC State looked while winning I don't feel as bad. I'm sure this may get some of the Wolfpack faithful optimistic about their chances in a potentially mediocre ACC this season but given how bad Michigan played and the scare they gave NC State I wouldn't be optimistic about this bunch. They had great effort last night but are very short on talent.
Florida State at Wisconsin
The Badgers may have lost Missouri State but won't suffer a let down against the Seminoles. Florida State is a terrible road team playing in the most difficult home floor of this whole challenge.
Penn State at Georgia Tech
If this was football UPS would have a chance. The Yellow Jackets are young but should blow them off the floor.
Winner: Georgia Tech
Indiana at Duke
Duke has serious weaknesses this year but always comes to play in these kinds of games. I doubt Indiana has the kinds of players you need to exploit their weaknesses.
Miami at Northwestern
Wake Forest gets excluded from the ACC side for this matchup? I'd rather watch the Demon Deacons against Air Force. Miami might win only 3 games this year in the ACC.
Michigan State at Boston College
My brother said that the Eagles might be this year's version of the 2005 Wake Forest team that imploded. After they got blown out by Vermont and Providence I'm starting to think he's right about BC.
Winner: Michigan State
Ohio State at North Carolina
Without Greg Oden I'm not sure why the Buckeyes are ranked number one in the nation. This isn't football folks. North Carolina should roll but if their over hyped freshman continue to struggle to fit in then things could be different. So far it seems like Roy Williams got a bunch of highly rated players and screwed up the good chemistry his team had last season.
Winner: North Carolina
Iowa at Virginia Tech
This could be a game that sets college basketball back a few decades. In the last week the Hokies found out why it isn't always such a great thing to have five starters back from a 4-12 team. Still I think they should be embarrassed enough by losses to Western Michigan and Southern Illinois to squeak out a close win at home.
Winner: Virginia Tech
Virginia at Purdue
This is the first halfway decent road test for the Cavaliers who just broke into the top 25 in one poll. Being Virginia you'd expect them to lose now. This Virginia team has plenty of holes but I don't think Purdue has the inside game to them.
Clemson at Minnesota
The Gophers are just dreadful. This game is more about that than a weak Clemson squad.
That makes it 7-3 in the ACC's favor by my count which assures another ACC win.
Oh, I almost forgot.
Maryland at Illinois
Jamar Smith comes back for the Illini from a sprained ankle just in time. This Illinois team was down to both Bradley and Miami(OH) before eking out close wins in both games. They are not playing their best basketball. On the other hand Maryland hasn't done too well as the road team in this challenge. Gary Williams has gotten all he could ask for out of the new freshman and Bambale Osby but I think they have their first let down of the season. As the 19th ranked team in the country this group now has a target on them. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the pressure.