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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Big Night Ahead for the Big Ten

Just one more thought on last night's game before I make some picks for the remaining ACC/Big Ten Challenge games:

When an opposing player simply goes "en fuego" like A.D. Vassallo did, you can play all the great defense you want after he gets the ball and it just won't matter. In those rare times, the defense must shift to denying him the ball. I understand why Wisconsin did not, considering Vassallo was merely keeping the Hokies in the game for most of that time. It wasn't until the lead shrank in the final minute that he could actually win it for Virginia Tech.

What scares me is a combination of two things. One, I don't Wisconsin has a smart shutdown guy on the roster right now that could chase a taller shooter around if the Badgers really needed to cool a guy off. Secondly, Bo Ryan is far too stubborn in his straight-up, pack it in man-to-man defense to ever try something like that, even if it is completely logical.

On to the picks ...

With the Big Ten leading 1-0, Tuesday's games feature a few toss ups that the conference must win heading into the final five games on Wednesday if it hopes to topple the ACC. Enjoy the great college hoops feast, with all games being broadcast on ESPN's family of networks.

: : : Tuesday (Predicted winners in orange)
7:00 ET - Ohio State @ Miami. I think if this game was later in the year, I would pick the Buckeyes and the upset, but the youngsters at OSU have only played three real games together and a road win in the Challenge is too much to ask.
7:00 ET - Iowa @ Boston College. The Hawkeyes are bad -- I cannot believe freshman Anthony Tucker is Iowa's best player. Home team takes it.
7:30 ET - Clemson @ Illinois. A must win for the Big Ten. Clemson (7-0) started out hot last year too and of course it did not mean squat. In a clash of styles, I'd like to give Bruce Weber the benefit of the doubt, but the history of this series causes me to reconsider.
9:00 ET - Duke @ Purdue. Can Purdue out-Duke the Blue Devils with perimeter feistiness and outside shooting? I like the Boiler defenders better (Kramer, Jackson, Moore and Johnson inside) and there is no way Duke is the fourth-best team in the country.
9:30 ET - Virginia @ Minnesota. This is the only game I truly expect the Big Ten to win.

: : : Wednesday (Predicted winners in orange)
7:00 ET - Indiana @ Wake Forest. Blowout city. Sorry Crean!
7:00 ET - Michigan @ Maryland. Great matchup between two teams who are hanging their hats on big upsets in the early season. The Terps are reeling after two straight losses and John Beilein's funhouse offense and zone defense might be the ticket to a huge Big Ten win on the road (against my better judgment).
7:30 ET - Penn State @ Georgia Tech. I had this game earmarked for an upset alert until I realized that GT's "bad wins" (Mercer, Jacksonville) weren't all that bad. I think the Nittany Lions will give the Yellow Jackets tough run in a battle of two-word mascots.
9:00 ET - North Carolina vs. Michigan State @ Ford Field (Detroit). Every one is handing this game to UNC and I feel like a lemming today.
9:30 ET - Florida State @ Northwestern. Home court doesn't mean much in Evanston.

My count is another 7-4 win for the ACC, but there are few that can go either way for sure. Counting Wisconsin's victory, I am forecasting five wins by road teams. As long as Purdue can give Duke their first-ever loss, I will be happy.


  1. "Yellowjackets" is supposed to be two words? I think NU pulls one out, despite the half-baked homecourt atmosphere.

  2. Yep, two words according to Georgia Tech.

    I hope you are right about NU -- a win there would likely keep it a respectable 6-5 loss. So far, I've only hit 3 out of 5 predictions, due to more road victories than expected.


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