Visit Bucky's 5th Quarter Get fresh Badger content from me at Bucky's 5th Quarter.
Subscribe to the new RSS feed Subscribe to my RSS feed from the new site.

Monday, November 30, 2009

2009 Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tips Off

It's time to wake up basketball fans. Maybe you find yourself still sleeping off the tryptofan that you gorged yourself on over the Thanksgiving holiday, stuck in football mode and awaiting the bowl matchups. If that's the case, your missed a slew of great season-opening tournaments on the hardwood.

Even though the Big Ten did not fare as well as expected in those tourneys, the conference gets an immediate mulligan starting tonight. Virginia hosts Penn State in the first game of the 2009 Big Ten/ACC Challenge at 6 pm CT. ESPN is advertising the Challenge on air, but there has been no hype for it online. And I don't blame them since the Big Ten has never won the event.

This is a stretch of games that can change national perception. Though the Big Ten is traditionally viewed as a plodding conference (especially when compared to the ACC), its teams have actually been playing at a fairly average pace through the first weeks of the season.

Tonight's game is one of the toss-up games that most people feel needs to swing the Big Ten's way in order to snap the ACC stranglehold on the challenge. Virginia (4-2), who played uptempo last year, is now coached by Wisconsin's favorite son Tony Bennett -- who has been known to lead slow-paced teams. By early indications, Penn State (4-2) is playing slower than average yet again.

The Challenge's marquee matchups begin in earnest on Tuesday, with the Wisconsin-Duke contest slated for 8:15 pm CT on Wednesday to help conclude the event.

So if you still want to sleepwalk through the college basketball season until March Madness, watching the Big Ten embarrass itself again in a BCS bowl and sobbing over Brett Favre's success, you can check online football odds at BetUS.

If you'd rather watch potential history in the making, check out ESPN for the next three nights. Even though it's still early, we will learn a lot about how the Big Ten can live up to its preseason hype and starting making some definitive statements about what problems each team will face this year. I am holding out hope for the conference, but don't have the best feeling about this one. On the bright side, if I go under .500 on my picks, there's a 50/50 chance the Big Ten pulled this thing out:

: : : Monday (predicted winners in orange)
6:00 CT - Penn State @ Virginia (ESPN2). Virginia might be rebuilding, but Penn State is the type of team that a Bennett-coached club will beat.

: : : Tuesday
6:00 CT - Wake Forest @#4 Purdue (ESPN). Purdue is carrying the Big Ten's banner right now. They have the talent and experience to get the job done. Wake just has Al-Farouq Aminu.
6:00 CT - Northwestern @ N.C. State (ESPNU). No Coble, no problem. The 'Cats are playing well and play their throwback style well, while the Wolfpack's resume is pretty weak.
6:30 CT - Maryland @ Indiana (ESPN2). Maryland is ripe for the picking, but Indiana is not quite ready for prime time.
8:00 CT - #9 Michigan State @ #10 North Carolina (ESPN). This one will hurt the most. If MSU can win the battle behind the arc, the Spartans can win, but UNC's front line is special.
8:30 CT - Virginia Tech @ Iowa (ESPN2). No words necessary.

: : : Wednesday
6:15 CT - Illinois @ Clemson (ESPN). Déjà vu? The Illini are reeling right now and Clemson is always playing well at this time.
6:15 CT - Minnesota @ Miami (ESPNU). Minnesota's 4-2 record is not as bad as it looks, since they fell to two decent teams. I believe in Tubby's guys to quiet the rising storm in Miami (6-0).
6:30 CT - Boston College @ Michigan (ESPN2). Big Blue must bounce back.
8:15 CT - #6 Duke @ Wisconsin (ESPN). I reserve the right to change my mind come Wednesday. Who guards Kyle Singler?
8:30 CT - #21 Florida State @ #15 Ohio State (ESPN2). This should be a nice game. Having at least one big man will help OSU slow Solomon Alabi, and the home court pushes the Buckeyes over the top.

ACC 6, Big Ten 5 ... miss it by *that* much.

1 comment:

Do you like the NCAA tournament's new 8-team "first-round" format?

What should Wisconsin do with the newly vacated scholarship?

Poll: Who will win the Big Ten?

Poll: Who was Wisconsin's first-half MVP (thru 16 games)?

Poll: How Many Regular Season games will wisconsin win in 2009-10?