When it’s time for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge there is excitement in the air. It means we are getting to the meat of the college hoops season. Conference play is close, teams are starting to show who they really are, holiday tournaments are over and we are about to have college hoops on the tv every evening.
There are always a few match-ups that are epic and “must see” tv and a few snoozers. The blowout isn’t historically what the challenge is known for, but last night showed us a different side.
In what was expected to be a night of close games, four of them were blowouts and a couple of those were surprising.
Much of the nation expected Indiana to get their first real test from North Carolina. This may have been their first real test, or it may have been a Tar Heel team that really isn’t that good. We won’t know for a while, but Indiana looked dominant as the Cody Zeller-led Hoosiers rolled the Tar Heels 83-59.
Wake Forest proved they are still struggling, having only two players sneak into double figues and losing to Nebraska 79-63. More commentary to follow on Wake’s plummet from near the top of the college basketball world but they are a team who will likely feed on the bottom of the ACC unless they find a way to improve dramatically.
Virginia Tech’s 95-79 destruction of Iowa came as a bit of a surprise. Iowa, a team much like Wake still trying to find their way back, had showed hope and promise in their early games. Virginia Tech is probably one of the “better than we thought they were” teams in the country, but a blowout is a suprise either way. (I guess Caroline’s heart was wrong, haha)
Maryland continued to impress, sucker-punching a Northwestern team that is probably not as good as people were starting to think. That being said, they can probably compete in a watered down Big Ten and there’s a good chance they dance this year. Maryland is big and agressive and is “one of those teams” this year. No one wants to play them and they will make noise in the ACC as they prepare to leave for the other side of the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge and join the Big 10 in 2014.
As expected, the NC State/ Michigan game was close and John Beilein’s team proved they are worthy of their early season accolades. Florida State lost to an up-and-coming Minnesota team, led by head coach Tubby Smith. Smith takes a big step this year to shaking off the critics following the collapse at Kentucky.
We would expect night number two to hold some better games as none of these games was particularly close.
Another top team gets their test tonight as No. 4 Ohio State travels to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play No. 2 Duke. Duke has already proven it’s a force to be reckoned with. Everyone knows it’s a hard place to play and Ohio State has a chance to prove it’s for real with a win tonight.
For More Big 10/ ACC info check out The Line with Caroline’s predictions and analysis in her weekly column.