A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.
Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.
The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.
Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.
Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.
Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).
Monday, Nov. 28
Minnesota at Florida State
Wake Forest at Northwestern
Tuesday, Nov. 29
Syracuse at Wisconsin
Michigan State at Duke
Pittsburgh at Maryland
Iowa at Notre Dame
Georgia Tech at Penn State
N.C. State at Illinois
Wednesday, Nov. 30
Purdue at Louisville
North Carolina at Indiana
Ohio State at Virginia
Virginia Tech at Michigan
Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)
Nebraska at Clemson
Late Night Snacks: ACC/Big Ten Challenge continues while Memphis takes a bad home loss
In one of the better head-to-head matchups of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Wolverines got the best of Syracuse thanks to Spike Albrecht’s big second half and late-game heroics. Albrecht’s three-pointer with 31 seconds left in the game put Michigan ahead by three and while his 11-point, nine-assist game looks average on paper, much of that production came when Michigan needed him to step up. Zak Irvin also scored 18 points and All-American candidate Caris LeVert had 12 points and six assists.
1. Stephen F. Austin 64, Memphis 52
Things were already off to a dicey start for the Tigers this season, but the heat is going to be on after a double-digit home loss to drop Memphis to 2-3. Guard play continued to be really bad for the Tigers as the Lumberjacks won despite shooting only 41 percent from the field and 35 percent from the three-point line. Memphis will need to bounce back quickly and start to string together some wins if they want to build momentum heading into conference play.
2. No. 5 Louisville 64, No. 14 Ohio State 55
The Cardinals jumped out to a 35-18 halftime lead, but the Buckeyes made them sweat out a home win by making the game close in the final minutes. Freshman D’Angelo Russell struggled to shoot consistently for Ohio State but he still made enough plays to finish with 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds. For Louisville, senior Wayne Blackshear had one of the finest performances of his career as he led all scorers with 22 points and added six rebounds while junior forward Montrezl Harrell had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
This didn’t look like it would be one of the best ACC/Big Ten Challenge games on the schedule entering the season, but in a battle of unbeatens, Miami was able to slow down Illinois’ high-scoring offense for another solid win. Junior guard Angel Rodriguez was limited to nine points on 2-for-9 shooting for the Hurricanes, but Miami’s offense did a nice job piecing together a balanced scoring effort as Deandre Burnett had 19 points off the bench and and Manu Lecomte added 15 points.
1. The Big Ten
The conference jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge early in the night before dropping a few and winning the final game of the evening to finish ahead 6-2 with one more night to go. While Wednesday night’s game between top-five teams Duke and Wisconsin and a fun matchup between Iowa and North Carolina will still draw the nation’s attention, it looks like most of the Big Ten’s non-elite teams are stronger at this point in the season.
2. James Madison guard Andre Nation
James Madison guard Andre Nation has only played in two games so far this season after serving a suspension and he made his presence felt for the Dukes in their 63-61 win over Campbell. How, you might ask? With the game-winning alley-oop with 1.9 seconds left.
3. Purdue big men
One of the most fascinating “platoons” in college basketball this season is the center duo at Purdue in junior All-Big Ten candidate A.J. Hammons and freshman center Isaac Haas. The duo combined for exactly 40 minutes in Tuesday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge win over N.C. State and finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds on 10-for-17 shooting. Hammons is a load to handle on the interior on his own, but now teams have to worry about the emergence of Haas, who has improved tremendously over the last year coming into his first year of college basketball.
1. Pittsburgh starting guards
It looked like Pitt had some momentum entering the ACC/Big Ten Challenge after a big Maui Invitational win over Kansas State last week but the Panthers starting backcourt of James Robinson and Chris Young struggled in the 81-69 loss to Indiana. Robinson was 1-for-9 from the field and Young was 6-for-17 as neither could get consistent production as scorers.
2. VCU’s offense
For much of the season, the Rams have struggled to generate consistent offense — especially when Havoc isn’t working. But thankfully for head coach Shaka Smart, VCU began forcing a lot of Illinois State turnovers in the second half and won despite shooting only 33 percent from the field and 37 percent from the three-point line in a 66-62 win. The Rams will have to figure out some more ways to free up offense in the half court, but they did fight back for a nice comeback road win over a tough Missouri Valley opponent.
Khadeem Carrington had the best game of his young college career as the Seton Hall freshman guard went 8-for-8 for 16 points off the bench in the Pirates’ 78-55 win over Mount St. Mary’s.
D’Angelo Harrison had 16 points and nine rebounds to help St. John’s get past Niagara, 70-57.
Hofstra junior guard Ameen Tanksley had a night to remember, going for 30 points on 9-for-9 shooting and 5-for-5 three-point shooting in the Pride’s 88-74 win over Norfolk State.
Georgia used the scoring of Kenny Gaines (25 points) and Marcus Thornton (24 points) to run past Chattanooga, 86-55.
LSU had a big night from Josh Gray as the junior guard had 25 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals in a 82-60 win over UMass.
Minnesota got 27 points and seven rebounds from guard Andre Hollins in an 84-69 win over Wake Forest.
In a high-scoring affair, Louisiana Tech got past Northwestern State, 99-88, as guard Alex Hamilton finished with 30 points.
Coming off the bench, Texas freshman Myles Turner had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a 63-53 win over UT-Arlington.
One of the best mid-major guards in the country, Evansville’s D.J. Balentine, went for 28 points in the Purple Aces’ 86-78 win over Wright State.
Iowa State had five players in double-figures as the No. 20 Cyclones cruised to a 96-59 win over Lamar. Bryce Dejean-Jones had 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead the way.
Nino Williams only played 20 minutes but had 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting as Kansas State rolled past Omaha for an 84-66 win.
Bradley junior guard Warren Jones dropped 33 points as the Braves won 84-73 over Central Michigan.
Stanley Johnson and Gabe York each had 18 points as No. 3 Arizona got past Gardner-Webb 91-65.
Gonzaga actually trailed Southeastern Louisiana, 33-32, at the half before taking over and running away with a 76-57 win. Kyle Wiltjer led the Zags with 20 points.
Alabama was able to knock off South Florida as Rodney Cooper had 20 points and Ricky Tarrant added 17.
An efficient Tuesday evening for Larry Nance Jr. as he led Wyoming with 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting in a 68-42 win over Denver.
There aren’t many duos on the west coast better than Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth and they had another big night in a BYU road win at Utah State. Haws went for 35 points and Collinsworth had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
DePaul had five players finish with at least 13 points in a 78-67 win over Northern Illinois. Junior forward Myke Henry and sophomore guard Billy Garrett Jr. each had 15.
Tuesday night the Hurricanes passed another important test, as they held high-scoring No. 24 Illinois to a season-low in points in a 70-61 home win. While the Hurricanes have relied at times on strong individual scoring performances from guards Angel Rodriguez and Shelden McClellan during the early part of the season, it was the defense and a balanced scoring effort that got it done to give the ACC their first win in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Entering Tuesday night’s game, Illinois was averaging 90 points per game on 48 percent shooting. Those numbers plummeted against Miami, as the Fighting Illini struggled to find consistent perimeter shooting — which was a huge issue for them last season — as they were held to 33 percent from the floor and 23 percent from three-point range.
Illinois entered this season with some questions at point guard after starting lead guard and senior Tracy Abrams went down with a torn ACL. Abrams’ replacements in the lineup, transfer guards Ahmad Starks and Aaron Cosby, didn’t answer the call against the Hurricanes. The two combined to go 2-for-20 from the field and 2-for-13 from three-point range and didn’t give the Illini much of anything.
Senior guard Rayvonte Rice had a big outing as the go-to performer for Illinois, going for 22 points and 12 rebounds, but Starks and Cosby need to make life easier for him by hitting shots and providing floor spacing. It doesn’t help that the duo also can’t match the perimeter defense that Abrams provides and it was part of the reason that Miami committed a season-low five turnovers.
But back to Miami’s effort, which was certainly impressive. The Hurricanes only trailed 3-0 early in the game and controlled the rest of the game on both ends of the floor — when the game didn’t devolve into an ugly chuck-fest for both teams. It’s no secret that both of these teams aren’t afraid to hoist perimeter shots and there were quite a bit of quick looks from both teams as neither could really find an offensive rhythm.
Miami also has to be pleased that its offense stepped up when Rodriguez struggled. The junior point guard only had nine points on 2-for-9 shooting, but Deandre Burnett had 19 points off the bench, Manu Lecomte chipped in 15 points and McClellan added 14.
Miami is 8-0 for the first time since 2009 and Jim Larranaga’s team looks like they are starting to get a comfortable feel for how to win tight games in different ways. The Hurricanes beat a good opponent in Illinois and didn’t need Rodriguez to go in beast mode and they held the lead for nearly the entire game despite shooting only 38 percent from the field.
There hasn’t been a time that Miami has faced a truly elite team this season — Florida is very depleted and Illinois is still finding itself offensively around Rice against good defenses — but the Hurricanes are finding ways to win games and look like arguably college basketball’s biggest surprise to this point in the young season.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge kicked off Monday evening, but the best games of the event will begin on Tuesday night.
Here is the complete schedule, a ranking of the matchups and a quick preview and our picks in each game (all times EST):
1. No. 4 Duke at No. 2 Wisconsin, Wed. 9:30 p.m.: The marquee matchup of the challenge will arguably be the best matchup we get all season long. Two of the nation’s top three teams. The favorite in the ACC vs. the favorite in the Big Ten. Perhaps most importantly, the nation’s two best big men in Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor will square off. I could not be more excited about this matchup.
CBT Prediction: Wisconsin
2. No. 14 Ohio State at No. 5 Louisville, Tue. 9:30 p.m.: Ohio State has proven to be better than we expected this season, as Shannon Scott looks like the second coming of John Stockton and D’angelo Russell has been quite good early on this season. Watching Russell matchup with Terry Rozier will be fun, but the key may end up being who on Ohio State draws the unenviable task of trying to cover Montrezl Harrell.
CBT Prediction: Louisville
3. No. 7 Virginia at No. 21 Maryland, Wed. 9:15 p.m.: Well, this is boring. The leagues had a chance to get a rematch from last year’s Sweet 16 thriller between Michigan State and Virginia, but instead decided to send the 10 Cavs on the road to face their old ACC rival Maryland in the Terps’ first season in the Big Ten. Snore. That said, Maryland has played like a top 25 team, but without Dez Wells and with Evan Smotrycz banged up, this matchup has lost some of its luster.
CBT Prediction: Virginia
4. No. 19 Michigan State at Notre Dame, Wed. 7:15 p.m.: The Spartans have not looked great through seven games, but Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice have all played well. That said, Notre Dame looks like a sleeper to finish in the top four in the ACC, and Jerian Grant has played like an all-american.
CBT Prediction: Notre Dame
5. Syracuse at No. 17 Michigan, Tue. 7:30 p.m.: A rematch of the 2013 Final Four minus much of the intrigue. Michigan has great guards, but they are still trying to figure their big men out. Syracuse has the opposite issue. Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough have been great, but their back court still has some question marks.
CBT Pick: Michigan
6. No. 24 Illinois at No. 15 Miami, Tue. 9:00 p.m.: So Angel Rodriguez has been pretty good, hasn’t he? Sheldon McClellan too, right? Miami already owns a win over Florida and won the Charleston Classic. But Illinois? They are undefeated as well. The most underrated matchup of the event.
CBT Pick: Miami
7. Iowa at North Carolina, Wed. 7:30 p.m.: This game was a lot more intriguing before we realized that Iowa’s back court was not that good. Intriguing storyline here: Marcus Paige, who has had a slow start to the season, is an Iowa native.
CBT Pick: North Carolina
8. N.C. State at Purdue, Tue. 9:00 p.m.: N.C. State has been one of the most surprising teams in the ACC this season. Purdue? They’ve surprised a lot of people in the Big Ten as well. Cat Barber, Trevor Lacey and A.J. Hammons are all underrated nationally. This will be a good gauge game for both teams.
CBT Pick: N.C. State
9. Pitt at Indiana, Tue. 7:00 p.m.: It will be interesting to see what happens with Indiana this season, as the program is dealing with quite a bit of turmoil. Pitt should make a return to the NCAA tournament as well.
CBT Pick: Indiana
10. Nebraska at Florida State, Mon. 7:00 p.m.: Nebraska has already lost to Rhode Island on the road, but Florida State is missing two key back court pieces, Devon Bookert and Aaron Thomas.
Syracuse defeated Holy Cross, 72-48, without the services of starting small forward Tyler Roberson for the second straight game.
The Orange travel to Ann Arbor on Tuesday night for their ACC/Big Ten Challenge against No. 19 Michigan. Entering that contest, the status of Roberson remains unknown, according to Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com.
“I have no idea,” Jim Boeheim told reporters when asked about Roberson’s availability on Tuesday.
Roberson has been sidelined with a strained muscle for Syracuse’s wins against Loyola (MD) and Holy Cross. Syracuse is still dealing with the absence of Dajuan Coleman, who has not played this season.
“He practiced for a few minutes the other day and was good. And then after 30-40 minutes, he was hurt,” Boeheim said. “It’s just a strain. That’s all it is. Nothing serious.”
The sophomore forward is averaging 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in his expanded role this season. Fellow sophomore B.J. Johnson has filled in his role as starter over the last two games.
In a game in which both No. 8 Wisconsin and Virginia struggled to make shots, redshirt junior guard Josh Gasser who was the most accurate shooter and made the plays that helped the Badgers pick up the 48-38 win in Charlottesville. Gasser (team-high 11 points) attempted just two shots from the field but he made both, the second of which being a three-pointer to give the Badgers a 42-30 lead with 6:24 remaining. And based upon how the two teams shot on the night, that margin proved to be insurmountable.
But Gasser’s biggest contribution came on the defensive end of the floor, where he was the player primarily responsible for the assignment of guarding All-ACC guard Joe Harris. In Virginia’s 60-54 win at the Kohl Center last season Harris accounted for 22 points (8-for-19 FG), five rebounds and five assists.
However on Wednesday Harris’ impact was minimal, as he finished the night with just two points on 1-for-10 shooting. The difference: Gasser, who missed all of last season due to a torn ACL and adds an element this team sorely lacked while he was sidelined.
“Just gutsy, tough,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said of Gasser following the team’s season-opening win over St. John’s, and those words apply to Wednesday’s performance as well. “That’s Josh. (Thirty-five) games last year, where he wasn’t on the floor, we could have used that. That energy, that moxie. He might not do that every night, but he showed why he worked so hard in the offseason.”
As a team Virginia shot 23.4%, and after scoring 12 of their first 14 points in the paint the Cavaliers struggled to convert what few opportunities they could find to the remainder of the night. Both teams defended well, with Virginia limiting the Badgers to 28.8% shooting (5-for-23 3PT), but it was Wisconsin who did the better job of finding the looks needed to both establish and maintain a working margin.
Now 9-0 on the season with wins over Florida, Saint Louis and Virginia on their resume, Wisconsin has the look of a Big Ten contender and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Under Ryan, who picked up his 300th win at the school on Wednesday, Wisconsin has finished in the top four of the Big Ten standings every season. They’ll have better nights offensively, but even if they don’t the defense will remain a constant.
In games like this it’s difficult to find too much to apply towards the future, but it’s safe to say that with Josh Gasser back in the rotation Wisconsin’s got an entirely different look.