After eight games, the ACC and Big Ten are tied at four wins apiece in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Eight wins are needed to win bragging rights between conferences, and tonight features some exciting matchups. Here’s what to watch for in another busy night in college basketball:
#5 Virginia at Purdue, 7:15pm, ESPN2
The fifth-ranked Cavaliers put their undefeated record on the line as they travel to Mackey Arena to face the Boilermakers. Tony Bennett’s squad is coming off a 20-point win over Maine, where they held the Black Bears to just 26 points. In fact, they haven’t allowed more than 55 points on defense all season. Mamadi Diakite (13.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG) is going to be a lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft, and is the primary scorer for the Cavaliers. Braxton Key and Jay Huff are also solid contributors averaging double figures in scoring, as well.
For Purdue, Jahaad Proctor (14.6 PPG) and Eric Hunter Jr. (10.3 PPG) are two guards to keep an eye on, with Matt Haarms (11.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG) anchoring things down low. The Boilermakers (4-3) are coming off a neutral site loss to Florida State, and need to win tonight to avoid going .500 on the young season. The two teams last met just nine months ago in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. Virginia survived Carsen Edwards’ 42 points to win 80-75 and reach the Final Four. Don’t expect either team to sniff the 70’s, as both possess stout defenses.
#6 Ohio State at #7 North Carolina, 9:30pm, ESPN
Sixth-ranked Ohio State take on the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill in yet another Top 10 showdown. The Buckeyes are among the Big Ten’s elite, and are led by Kaleb Wesson’s 12.7 PPG and 9.3 RPG. They, too, play outstanding defense, as many remember they held Villanova to just 30% shooting a few weeks ago in their blowout win.
They’ll look to keep Cole Anthony in check, who is playing like a potential top-3 pick. In his first seven collegiate games, he’s averaging 20.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 4.0 APG. However, Roy Williams needs other guys to be able to score the ball, as teams will let Anthony get his 25 points as long as they guard everybody else. North Carolina is 11-1 all-time versus Ohio State.
Notre Dame at #3 Maryland, 7:30 pm, ESPN
The Fighting Irish take on third-ranked Maryland in another Big Ten/ACC clash. Notre Dame has won six straight after the season-opening loss to UNC, and last played seven days ago. So, rest shouldn’t be an issue for Mike Brey’s team, who is led by John Mooney’s 14.3 PPG and 13.0 RPG.
The same can’t be said for the Terrapins, who are coming off of playing three games in as many days, but get the benefit of playing at home. Last week, Maryland took down Temple, Harvard and Marquette to win the annual Orlando Invitational. Anthony Cowan Jr. (17.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) is the man to watch for Mark Turgeon’s team, and is one of the best guards in the Big Ten. Another guy who’ll be important in tonight’s game, especially in containing John Mooney, is Jalen Smith (13.4 PPG, 9 RPG). The Terrapins (8-0) haven’t started 9-0 since the 1998-99 season.
Wisconsin at NC State, 9:15 pm, ESPN2
The Badgers travel to Raleigh to battle the Wolfpack with the winner getting a much needed resume-building win. Both teams look like they’ll be fighting for a tournament bid until mid-March, so any Quadrant 1 or 2 wins will go a long way. This isn’t the same Wisconsin team we’ve become accustomed to, but still have talent in Nate Reuvers (15.4 PPG) and Brad Davison (12.1 PPG).
NC State (6-2) is led by CJ Bryce’s 16.1 PPG and 7.3 RPG, and have a balanced scoring attack with four others averaging double-figures. Braxton Beverly has been a disappointment scoring the ball thus far, but is shooting 40% from three-point range. Wisconsin defeated NC State 79-75 in last year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Madison.
- Pennsylvania at Villanova, 6:30 pm, FS1
- Nebraska at Georgia Tech, 7:15 pm, ESPNU
- BYU at Utah, 8:00 pm, PAC12
- Georgetown at Oklahoma State, 8:00 pm, ESPN+
- Texas Tech at DePaul, 8:30 pm, FS1
- Wake Forest at Penn State, 9:15 pm, ESPNU