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Big Ten/ACC Challenge Viewer’s Guide

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The Big Ten/ACC Challenge kicks off tonight. Since we know that you need help putting together your schedule, here’s a breakdown of which games you need to watch. You’re welcome.

All times EST:

Only miss these games to see the birth of your FIRST child:

1. Tue 9:15 p.m.: No. 22 Michigan at No. 10 Duke: Neither the Wolverines nor the Blue Devils have lived up to their preseason hype early on this season, which is part of the reason that this is now a top 25 matchup instead of a battle between top ten teams. The Wolverines are banged up, as Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary have all dealt with injuries early on this season. The key to this matchup? McGary. Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood can’t guard him, but he can’t guard them. Who breaks first?

CBT Pick: Duke

2. Tue. 7:15 p.m.: Indiana at No. 4 Syracuse: Another rematch, this time from last year’s Sweet 16, when Tom Crean’s high-octane offense couldn’t figure out their way through the Syracuse zone. This year, Indiana’s built around their ability to defend, as they don’t have the perimeter shooting they did a season ago but they do have the length and athleticism to match the Orange. The Orange force a lot of turnovers, and the Hoosiers have had issues with turnovers this season. Yogi Ferrell vs. Tyler Ennis will be a lot of fun.

CBT Pick: Syracuse

3. Wed. 7:00 p.m.: No. 8 Wisconsin at Virginia: It won’t be high-scoring, but these are two very good, very well-coached teams that play similar styles. Virginia has a little more size and athleticism than the Badgers, but Wisconsin can spread the floor and shoot it better than the ‘Hoos. Sam Dekker vs. Joe Harris will be a lot of fun as well.

CBT Pick: Wisconsin

You can miss these for a hot date, but they have to be at least a nine and NOT already your significant other:

4. Tue. 9:15 p.m.: Notre Dame at No. 23 Iowa: I’d say this is the most interesting matchup of the event in that we’re still really trying to get a gauge for both teams. The Irish have a loaded back court but they already have a loss to Indiana State on their resume. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, lost a nail-biter to Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis and are a dangerously deep and versatile team. Who wins out?

CBT Pick: Iowa

5. Wed. 9:00 p.m.: North Carolina at No. 1 Michigan State: Michigan State has lived up to the hype they had entering the season, as they’re undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. They look every bit a national title contender. North Carolina, on the other hand, has struggled with consistency and simply is not the same team without P.J. Hairston.

CBT Pick: Michigan State

6. Wed. 7:00 p.m.: Maryland at No. 5 Ohio State: The Buckeyes are overwhelming on the defensive end of the floor, and while I think Maryland is flying a bit under the radar right now, I’m not sure that the Terps are going to be able to handle that pressure without Seth Allen.

CBT Pick: Ohio State

You can play bridge with your Grandmother, just make sure you have the game on in the back ground:

7. Tue. 7:30 p.m.: Penn State at Pitt: Pitt is going to end up being a contender in the ACC this season. Mark my words. The Nittany Lions are a much-improved team this year, enough that they’ll be competitive in the Big Ten, but I can’t see them picking up this win in Pittsburgh.

CBT Pick: Pitt

8. Tue. 9:30 p.m.: Florida State at Minnesota: The Gophers had a rough trip to Maui while the Seminoles are coming off of impressive performances in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and at Florida.

CBT Pick: Florida State

9. Wed. 9:00 p.m.: Boston College at Purdue: I can’t quite figure out either of these teams, but Olivier Hanlon against the Johnson brothers and Ryan Anderson vs. A.J. Hammons will be fun

CBT Pick: Boston College

You know what? Go ahead. Take a nap. Or play FIFA. Or do whatever. I won’t even be mad:

10. Tue. 7:15 p.m.: Illinois at Georgia Tech

CBT Pick: Illinois

11. Wed. 7:30 p.m.: Northwestern at NC State

CBT Pick: NC State

12. Wed. 9:30 p.m.: Miami at Nebraska

CBT Pick: Nebraska

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.