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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

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.