It’s one of the best weeks of the college basketball year, as the ACC/Big Ten Challenge tips off for the 22nd consecutive year on Tuesday night. Tuesday and Wednesday’s action provides three Top 25 matchups, with two of those contests being between Top 10 teams. Let’s take a look at some of the big matchups.
#16 North Carolina @ #3 Iowa
Line: Iowa -4.5
The Tar Heels come into this game at 3-1 after an up-and-down week in the Maui Invitational, while the Hawkeyes have been relatively untested with three blowout wins. National POY favorite Luka Garza is averaging 34 PPG and 9.7 RPG, looking like he is going to be a force to be reckoned with all season long. The Hawkeyes can score in bunches, though the true test will be whether or not Iowa can defend well enough to slow down Roy Williams’ group. The Tar Heels can spread it out well, with senior forward Garrison Brooks leading the way with just over 12 PPG through the first four games.
My Prediction: Iowa wins this one at home, as I believe the scoring threats are just too much for this North Carolina group. Garza looked more human in his last game, than he had in the first couple, finishing with 22 points and 8 rebounds. Iowa comes away with their first ranked win of the season, 83-70.
#22 Ohio State @ Notre Dame
Line: OSU -5
The Buckeyes come into this game ranked as the No. 22 team in the land, led by forward Justice Sueing who is averaging 15 points a night. Ohio State has looked like a complete team in their first three contests; however, they are much like the Hawkeyes in that they haven’t been tested. Notre Dame hung well with Michigan State in their first game of the season, though the eight point win over Detroit Mercy isn’t the most impressive of wins.
My Prediction: I think Ohio State makes a statement in this one, Buckeyes find a way to dominate the interior with Sueing and come away 75-62 winners.
#6 Illinois @ #10 Duke
After flying out of the gates in a Top 10 matchup against Michigan State, Duke showed some kinks in the armor in what was a rare loss at Cameron Indoor. Similarly, Illinois was up big against Baylor before the Bears went on a second-half run to pull away. Two teams that could really use a non-conference win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and have the fire power to catapult this win into quite the early season run. Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn remain the best 1-2 punch in the Big Ten, and the Illini will need a big night from them to pull it out.
My Prediction: A back and forth game with plenty of big defensive stops is what I’m predicting in this one. I think Illinois is probably the better team, but they fall short tonight. Duke doesn’t lose two in a row at Cameron, Blue Devils by 5, 82-77.