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8 Things We Learned from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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8. Rutgers still has a long way to go. Tthis is the best Rutgers team in years, but everyone who tuned in Wednesday night and saw Rutgers was 6-0 thought that this was the year of the Scarlet Knight, realized that they aren’t quite there yet as they lost to a very inexperienced Miami team.

7. Iowa’s defense is the 23rd worst in the country out of 347 teams. The Hawkeyes allowed over 90 points for the third time in five games as Notre Dame beat them 92-78. Notre Dame had only scored 92 once in their first seven games and that was against Seattle. Iowa is really missing their bigs from a year ago and Jarrod Uthoff. Last season they only allowed 69 points per game, this season they are up over 83 per game.

6. Buzz Williams is turning Virginia Tech into an NCAA Tournament team. A huge win for the Hokies over Michigan in Ann Arbor has them at 6-1. They are a balanced team with four players scoring in double-figures and they are shooting lights out from behind the arc. Michigan is a good team and VT was able to comeback from a 9-point halftime deficit on the road to win.

5. Virginia can score quickly when they need to and come from behind better than before. Tony Bennett’s teams have usually gone the “We take an early lead and stymie you on defense” approach. Well Ohio State jumped out to a big 14-point lead in the first half and lead virtually the entire game. Virginia chipped away and took their first lead with just over two minutes left. They shot terribly in the first half and finished the game at an awful 38 percent but still won. Their defense played the second half with the “stymie” mentality.

4. Louisville has seven  players who can beat you. Pretty impressive for a team that lost two of their best players to come back the next season seven deep. Any one of their starters and their first two off the bench (Spalding and Mahmoud) can score on you in any number of ways. Oh and their defense is pretty good too, forcing Purdue into 17 turnovers and holding them to 36 percent from the floor.

3. Wisconsin’s defense is back to being unreal. Heading into Tuesday night’s matchup against Syracuse, the Orange were scoring 79 points per game, while shooting over 50 percent from the floor. Wisconsin held them to 60 points on just 38 percent shooting and out-rebounded them 40-25. Wisconsin’s two losses came to UNC and Creighton, two great teams, and the Badgers are one of the few schools to not allow an opponent to score 80 on them this season.

2. Indiana is the Best team in the Big Ten and a top five team in the country. Yes they lost to IPFW, which is a big deal, but they now beaten Kansas and North Carolina. The Hoosiers are for real, and needed that awful IPFW loss to wake them up. Tom Crean’s squad needed Wednesday night’s win over UNC more than any other team did during this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

1. Duke, when healthy, is the best team in the country. Duke played just six players, with Grayson Allen and Matt Jones both playing all 40 minutes, in their 9-point win over Michigan State. They have three of the top 15 freshman out with injury, if even one of them was playing currently, they probably would have beaten Kansas (lost 77-75) and would be number one in the country. Can you imagine IF all three of them were playing, look out.

Scott Zolotorow