The annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge got underway last night with Miami and Minnesota claiming victories for their respective conferences. However, tonight’s matchups are much more enticing and have much larger ramifications for March. Here’s a quick preview of Tuesday night’s action:
#4 Michigan at #1 Louisville, 7:30pm, ESPN
In what could be the biggest game of the season so far, the no. 4 Wolverines travel to the KFC Yum! Center to take on the newly-crowned no. 1 Cardinals. Michigan took down Iowa State, North Carolina and Gonzaga in three days to win the Battle 4 Atlantis this past weekend. So it will be interesting to see if Juwan Howard’s team has their legs and competitive edge they had in the Bahamas. They have a balanced scoring attack led by Isaiah Liver’s 17.0 PPG, and have one of the best point guards in the country in Xavier Simpson (12.3 PPG, 9.7 APG). Oh, and they have four key players that shoot at least 44 percent from three-point range.
After an opening season win at Miami, the Cards have not been tested to any extent. Jordan Nwora (21.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG) is a stud who can score in a variety of ways for Chris Mack. Steven Enoch (10.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG) is a man down low and they have solid playmakers in Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon and Darius Perry. The two teams have become NCAA Tournament foes as of late, having split the last two meetings. Louisville won (later vacated) the 2013 National Championship vs Michigan, and the Wolverines returned the favor in the Second Round of the 2017 tournament. Tuesday night’s showdown epitomizes everything that is great about college basketball.
#24 Butler at Ole Miss, 7:00pm, SECN
The Bulldogs find themselves ranked after an impressive 7-0 start to the 2019 season. Kamar Baldwin (15.6 PPG) and Bryce Nze (12.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG) are two names to watch for in this one for Butler. Baldwin had 22 points in the 68-67 win over Stanford last week.
The Rebels had an up and down weekend in Brooklyn. After being down by as many as 21 points, they came back to beat Penn State 74-72. Two days later, they put up just 37 points in a 40-point loss to Oklahoma State. Breein Tyree (15.1 PPG) and KJ Buffen (12.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG) are two dynamic pieces for Kermit Davis.
#17 Florida State at Indiana, 9:00pm, ESPN2
An under-the-radar game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is this one in Bloomington. Florida State has won seven straight after an opening season loss at Pittsburgh, which includes just recently impressive wins over Tennessee and Purdue. The Seminoles are led by Devin Vassell (12.5 PPG) and Trent Forrest (12.4 PPG), and are holding opponents to less than 60 PPG.
The Hoosiers enter this contest undefeated, but also untested. Trayce Jackson-Davis leads the team in scoring (15.6 PPG) and rebounds (9.6 RPG). Indiana’s offense will be up against a stout FSU defense, as previously mentioned. Jackson-Davis is going to need help scoring the ball from guys like Justin Smith and Al Durham, among others. Assembly Hall is always a great venue for college hoops, and it’ll be rocking once again on Tuesday night.
#10 Duke at #11 Michigan State, 9:30pm, ESPN
This was pegged as the main event of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for weeks, and for good reason. But fast forward to the first week of December, and it’s the third-best matchup of the entire event. Still, it should be one heck of a game between two blue-bloods and two Hall of Fame coaches in a great environment. The Blue Devils looked vulnerable after their stunning loss to Stephen F. Austin, but still possess a lot of talent, obviously. Vernon Carey Jr. (18.4 PPG, 9.5 RPG) and Tre Jones (15.1 PPG, 6.9 APG) will have to carry the load even more with Cassius Stanley out with an injury.
Speaking of carrying the load, that’s all Cassius Winston does for the Spartans. Averaging 17.9 PPG and 6.0 APG, Winston is one of the more complete, seasoned guards in the country. He’s got a lot of help, too, in Xavier Tillman, Aaron Henry, and Gabe Brown. Tom Izzo’s team will need to do what the Lumberjacks did in their upset win over Duke, and that’s to dominate the paint. They scored 64 points in the paint in the win at Cameron Indoor, an absurd number allowed under Coach K. Tonight’s matchup will be a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight, which the Spartans won 68-67.
- Northwestern at Boston College, 7:00pm, ESPNU
- Iowa at Syracuse, 7:00pm, ESPN2
- Vermont at Cincinnati, 7:00pm, CBSSN
- Bradley at #15 Memphis, 9:00pm, CBSSN
- Rutgers at Pittsburgh, 9:00pm, ESPNU