Thursday, December 4, 2008


Well, much closer than I thought.  The ACC wins it for a 10th straight year, 6-5... let's recap.

Game #1: Wisconsin 74 Virginia Tech 72
The only game on Monday night saw Virginia Tech make a valiant comeback that fell just short in the final few minutes at home versus the Badgers. Trevon Hughes made a floater in the lane with less than a second to go to break a 72-72 tie.  As usual, Wisconsin is very well-coached by Bo Ryan and should be a top 3 Big 10 team by the end of the season.  Va Tech, meanwhile, is likely the 6th or 7th best team in the ACC, putting itself squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.  The favored Badgers gave the Big 10 a 1-0 lead in the challenge after night one.

Game #2: Boston College 57 Iowa 55
Wouldn't the Big Ten like to have the final few seconds of this game back? With Iowa down by 2 on the final possession of the game, Andrew Brommer of Iowa was fouled with 0.4 seconds remaining. However, Brommer, just a 21% free-throw shooter missed the front end of a one-and-one, allowing BC to secure the 2 point win. Both Iowa and BC will be non-factors this year and finish towards the bottom of their respective conferences.  We're now tied 1-1.

Game #3: Ohio State 73 Miami 68
This was the biggest surprise of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Miami's best player Jack McClinton was ejected from the game in the first half due to a questionable slap to the face.  In turn, Jon Diebler and Evan Turner led the Buckeyes back from a 14-point deficit to a 5 point win. Miami nearly took out Texas in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament last year and I expect them to return to the dance this season.  I'm still not quite sure what to make of the Buckeyes, probably a bubble team with about five other Big Ten schools. Big Ten 2- ACC 1.

Game #4: Clemson 76 Illinois 74
Stitt and Booker combined for 34 points to hold off Illinois by 2 points on the road.  In yet another game that went down to the final seconds, the Illini were unable to get a shot off as time expired. Like they showed in reaching the ACC tournament final a year ago, Clemson is very dangerous and is a NCAA tournament-lock.  Illinois, like Ohio State is young and more than likely a NIT team. Big Ten 2- ACC 2.

Game #5: Duke 76 Purdue 60
Man, was this game similar to the Michigan-Duke game at MSG or what?  Like Michigan 2 weeks ago, Purdue was down 8 at the half and anywhere from 10 to 20 in the 2nd half. In what was called the most important game at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette since the Glenn Robinson days, Purdue struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm against the tough man-to-man defense of Duke. Purdue may really miss Scott Martin (transferred to Notre Dame) off their bench this year.  Still, Purdue will finish at the top of the league with MSU and Wisconsin, while Duke will likely be a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. ACC 3-Big Ten 2.

Game #6: Minnesota 66 Virginia 56
No surprises here, as this score was expected. Virginia is not very good and will finish towards the bottom of the ACC. Minnesota remains unbeaten, but still has not played a legitimate opponent. ACC 3-Big Ten 3.

Game #7: Wake Forest 83 Indiana 58
The largest mismatch on paper heading into the challenge. Indiana is, well, terrible... nothing more to say there.  They'll finish 11th in the Big Ten.  Wake Forest, meanwhile, is awfully dangerous, led by a big front-court and a terrific freshman guard Aminu. ACC 4- Big Ten 3.

Game #8: Maryland 75 Michigan 70
A game Michigan very easily could have (and probably needed to have) won. The Wolverines outplayed Maryland in the 1st half and should have had greater than a 5-point lead at halftime. Rebounding was a large story (as usual) in the 2nd half, as the Terps got an offensive rebound on half of their shots. Remember: Maryland came into the game ranked dead last (12th) in the ACC in rebounding. Unimpressive: Gibson and Wright.  Impressive: Sims (in 1st half), Shepherd and Novak. Both teams are very similar and will probably win about 16-19 games. With Duke (for a 2nd time) and UConn still on the horizon in non-conference play, the best Michigan can hope for is a 9-4 non-conference record. The most likely scenario: 9-9 in Big Ten play, puts you at 18-13. Add 1 Big Ten Conference tournament win and the Wolverines finish 19-13, probably just a little short of the Tournament.  Hopefully, LLP will make a huge difference starting on December 2oth. Perry really needs to be the 3rd option scoring-wise for Michigan, allowing Harris and Simis to get more rest and Novak, Douglass, etc. to be 4th and 5th options, where they should be more comfortable. ACC 5-Big Ten 3. 

Game #9: Penn State 85 Georgia Tech 83
Penn State may very well be the surprise team in the Big Ten this year. With 3 legitimate scorers, in Battle, Pringle and Cornley, Ed DeChellis may have himself a 18+ win NCAA/NIT team this season. For Georgia Tech, see comments on Virginia above. ACC 5- Big Ten 4.

Game #10: North Carolina 98 Michigan State 63
Seemed on TV at least that MSU would have had a better chance at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. A small crowd at Ford Field that became even smaller in the 2nd half, due to a Tuesday 9:15 start, cold weather, the bad economy, etc. Anyway, I actually thought MSU played decently in the 1st half, but still trailed by double digits. Dick Vitale on the ESPN broadcast said UNC could beat 5 NBA teams this year.  I'm not sure if I would go that far, but if the Heels stay healthy... they definitely are looking at a 1 or 2-loss season and the overall #1 seed. UNC does have 3 players, in Lawson, Ellington, and Hansbrough that will be top 10 picks in this year's draft. MSU definitely has a problem with outside shooting and was clearly missing Goran Suton. ACC 6- Big Ten 4.

Game #11: Northwestern 73 Florida State 59
I sure didn't see this one coming. Florida State was 7-0 heading into the game (who did they beat?). NW broke open a close game at halftime and led pretty comfortably for much of the 2nd half. NW head coach, Bill Carmody, formerly of Princeton, is said to be on the hot seat this season. I think he'll keep his job, but both NW and FSU are NIT (or CBI) bound. Did you known NW has never been to the NCAA tournament? FINAL: ACC 6-BIG Ten 5

NC State was the lone ACC team not to participate.  Overall, a much better showing than anticipated for the Big Ten, the closest since 2005.  The ACC has won in dominating fashion recently, 8-3 the last 2 years.  While the ACC is much more top-heavy, with 5 legitimate NCAA Tournament teams (UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson and Miami) and probably a 6th (either Va Tech or Maryland), the Big Ten is the much deeper league.  The ACC has some weak teams at the bottom of the conference, in Virginia, NC State, BC, Ga Tech and FSU, that UNC and Duke should defeat by 30+ points twice. The Big Ten has 9 teams, excluding Iowa and Indiana, who could find themselves in a postseason tournament (NCAA, NIT, or CBI).  Enjoy the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series and the BIG East-Sec challenge (yes, that really exists!).

1 comment:

The Original MSG said...

nice insights...will be coming back for more through the season...