The 2015 ACC-Big Ten Challenge Matchups, Ranked

first_imgacc big ten challenge logo.Twitter/@TheBuckeyeNut Twitter/@TheBuckeyeNutTwitter/@TheBuckeyeNutThe 14 matchups of this year’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge were released today, and as expected, there are plenty of good, and a number of ugly games ahead of us this winter. We get an old conference rivalry revival between perhaps the two preseason favorites in the two leagues, UNC and Maryland, an Elite Eight rematch between Louisville and Michigan State, and a blue blood showdown between Duke and Indiana. There’s also Virginia Tech vs. Northwestern, which probably won’t have neutral fans quite as excited. In all, every team from the two leagues, save for Georgia Tech, is involved, and these games always bring a lot of intrigue. Here is our ranking of the entire challenge:14. Boston College vs. Penn State: Twitter/@PennStateMBBTwitter/@PennStateMBBJim Christian’s first year at Boston College (13-19, 4-14) wasn’t great by any standard, and things may not get any better in 2015-16. Olivier Hanlan, one of the team’s lone bright spots, is off to the NBA Draft. It seems unlikely that the Eagles make any significant noise in the coming year. They will host Penn State in this year’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge, making for a pretty uninspiring matchup. Like BC, Penn State loses its one bonafide star—D.J. Newbill—from last year’s team. Perhaps these two young teams can find more balance offensively and improve without their prodigious scorers, but we wouldn’t bet on it right now. This will be BC and Penn State’s third ACC-Big Ten Challenge showdown since 2011. The two programs split the first two of those matchups. If this game is as good as the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl between the two schools’ football programs, we’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.13. Rutgers vs. Wake Forest: Twitter/@TieDyeNationTwitter/@TieDyeNationRebuilding jobs in young coaching tenures is a common theme in the low-ranked games on our list, and that is definitely the case for Rutgers vs. Wake Forest. The Scarlet Knights knocked off national semifinalist Wisconsin on January 11, and proceeded to lose out the rest of the season, to finish a lowly 2-16 in conference and 10-22 overall. To compound matters, two of the team’s best players, Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, are gone, leaving Eddie Jordan with a very lean roster in year three of his Rutgers tenure. Wake Forest is not an overly-talented team, but they were much more competitive in the ACC than Rutgers was in the Big Ten. They might not be a tournament team yet, but they will probably handle Rutgers in an uninspiring game at The RAC.12. Virginia Tech vs. Northwestern: Twitter/@PeteMorisTwitter/@PeteMorisThere’s a chance that this game is more fun than we’re giving it credit for by the time these two meet on the court, but for now, we have to keep the Hokies and Wildcats fairly low. Virginia Tech has been totally rebuilt under Buzz Williams, with a number of freshman receiving a lot of playing time in 2014-15, and a Top 30 recruiting class coming in, there is some hope for the hoops team in Blacksburg. Unfortunately for the Hokies, like BC and PSU, Tech is losing its top player Adam Smith to transfer, which won’t help matters in the near future. Northwestern is also playing better basketball under Chris Collins than it has in the past. Seven footer Alex Olah had a solid 2014-15, and should continue to improve, and Northwestern will be pairing him with four-star recruit Aaron Falzon in the frontcourt. We have to see more before we move a Hokies-Wildcats game up, but there is potential here.11. Minnesota vs. Clemson: Twitter/@ClemsonMBBTwitter/@ClemsonMBBThe Gophers and Tigers are far from the worst that their respective conferences have to offer, but this is a pretty boring match-up to be honest. Minnesota looked ready to turn a corner after winning the 2014 NIT, but instead slipped to a 6-12 Big Ten finish and 18-15 overall record. Clemson was a very solid defensive squad, but after losing K.J. McDaniels from the year before, the Tigers’ offense went in the tank. Jaron Blossomgame is an intriguing player, and Clemson had a few young guys like Donte Grantham step up last season, but we don’t envision them being an overly interesting team in 2015-16 as currently constructed.10. Nebraska vs. Miami: Twitter/@CanesWarningFSTwitter/@CanesWarningFSWe’re big fans of the jobs that both Jim Larranaga and Tim Miles have done at two schools that are traditionally football-focused, but we’re not sure that this game will be as good as it would have been a few seasons ago. Nebraska followed up a very promising NCAA Tournament season in 2013-14 with a disappointing one this past year, and now the Huskers lose top player Terran Petteway to the NBA. Miami, on the other hand, brings back a number of its best players, including guards Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, and rim protector Tonye Jekiri. Miami should be a factor in the ACC this year, but it is yet to be seen if Nebraska will bounce back to where it was two years ago.9. Pittsburgh vs. Purdue: Twitter/@HailToPittHoopsTwitter/@HailToPittHoopsAfter losing early season games to teams like North Florida and Gardner Webb, all Purdue did was go 12-6 in a tough Big Ten to land itself in the NCAA Tournament. After a few down seasons following the very good Robbie Hummell, E’Twaun Moore teams, Matt Painter’s Boilermakers seem like they’ve shaken off the rust, and could be very good in 2014-15. A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas give Purdue a very strong frontcourt, which could still be further bolstered with a commitment from blue chip forward Caleb Swanigan, who recently decommitted from Michigan State. Pitt, which has one of the nation’s top programs in the 2000s, has been a fairly average club so far in the ACC. James Artis, James Robinson, and Michael Young are nice players, but this Purdue game could be a good indicator for whether or not Pitt will establish itself in the top half of the ACC in 2015-16.8. Iowa vs. Florida State: Twitter/@Seminoles_comTwitter/@Seminoles_comThis is the first match-up that should feature two NCAA Tournament contenders. Florida State has one of the biggest frontcourts you’ll see, with juniors Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo returning, along with the arrival of Jean Marc Christ Koumadjie, the Monteverde Academy center who is listed by some at 7-foot-5. FSU also brings back star guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who made headlines last season when he dropped an unthinkable 30 points in the final 4:38 against Miami. Iowa is a pretty solid team as well, returning four starters from an NCAA Tournament team that blew out a solid Davidson squad in the 7 vs. 10 game before losing to Gonzaga. This may not be the sexiest matchup, at least by name, but these are two solid teams that should make for a good game.Next: The Top 7 ACC-Big Ten Matchups >>>Pages: Page 1 Page 2last_img

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