Ranking the Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchups
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchups were announced Wednesday -- and there are a couple of marquee battles.
One of the best nonconference events is back once again -- and it's new and improved with the ACC adding Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame to the fold. All three of those teams will take part in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this season, and none of the three are getting an easy welcome to the event.
A year ago, the two conferences split the Challenge, with each side winning six games. The ACC is up 10-3-1 in the event's history, but the Big Ten had won the three straight Challenges prior to last season.
Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello take a look at the 2013 matchups, which were released on Wednesday.
Note: The rankings are according to the CBSSports.com Top 25 (and one) poll.
1) No. 4 Michigan Wolverines at No. 6 Duke Blue Devils (Dec. 3): The Wolverines lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. , but John Beilein still will be takjng Glenn Robinson III , Mitch McGary , Nik Stauskas , Spike Albrecht and Jordan Morgan into Cameron to face a Blue Devils team that will add Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and one of the top freshmen in the nation, Jabari Parker, to a team that still has Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook . This certainly qualifies as a heavyweight matchup.
2) No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels at No. 3 Michigan State Spartans (Dec. 4): Two potential Final Four threats will get another early test. The individual battle inside between James Michael McAdoo and Adreian Payne should be outstanding, while Gary Harris and P.J. Hairston could also be poised for breakout seasons. The game could come down to point guard consistency: Marcus Paige and Keith Appling . Which team will get solid play from that position?
3) No. 24 Indiana Hoosiers at No. 11 Syracuse Orange (Dec. 3): The personnel will be different from when the Orange pulled the upset at the Verizon Center in the Sweet 16. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are gone for the Hoosiers and Jim Boeheim will be without Michael Carter-Williams , James Southerland and Brandon Triche . However, both teams are legitimate Preseason Top 25 clubs. It'll be IU's first-ever trip to the Carrier Dome.
4) No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers at No. 23 Virginia Cavaliers (Dec. 4): This won’t be the most explosive of head-to-head matchups, but both teams will win plenty of games next year. Wisconsin loses a lot of frontcourt firepower, but rising sophomore Sam Dekker is ready for a bigger role. Virginia is deep and versatile, with Joe Harris leading the way. This one will be a grind-it-out affair.
5) Maryland Terrapins at No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes (Dec. 4): The Terps will lose Alex Len , but Mark Turgeon should finally have a legitimate point guard in freshman Roddy Peters. Maryland also brings back Dez Wells and talented youngsters Jake Layman , Shaq Cleare and Seth Allen , and will add Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz . Ohio State still has Aaron Craft , but Thad Matta loses his offensive star in Deshaun Thomas , so now it'll be interesting to see who steps up in the scoring department. LaQuinton Ross has the talent, but the Buckeyes need him to be consistent -- and will need guys like Sam Thompson , Shannon Scott and Amir Williams to make significant strides from a year ago.
6) No. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Iowa Hawkeyes (Dec. 3): Mike Brey has another strong, veteran club led by its backcourt of Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins . Notre Dame loses a huge piece in Jack Cooley , but Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman will be a solid 1-2 punch up front. Fran McCaffery's Hawkeyes were in the discussion for the Top 25 (and one) with just about everyone back of note from a team that won 25 games this past season and will add Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff .
7) Florida State Seminoles at Minnesota Golden Gophers (Dec. 3): The Gophers lost Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams and also have a brand-new coach in Richard Pitino while Florida State is hoping to have the nation's top freshmen in Andrew Wiggins, who will hopefully commit somewhere before this game. The Seminoles underachieved this past season and lose Michael Snaer , but Leonard Hamilton could have a dangerous team -- especially if Wiggins comes to Tallahassee over Kentucky, Kansas and UNC. Minnesota will reply heavily on Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins .
8) Penn State Nittany Lions at Pittsburgh Panthers (Dec. 3): An intrastate battle between two teams that face key campaigns ahead. Penn State brings back the top three scorers in the Big Ten, with D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall returning and Tim Frazier back from injury. Pittsburgh has seen plenty of action in the offseason, and the Panthers will rely on a quality group of newcomers. With DeAndre Kane making the transfer to Pittsburgh, Jamie Dixon's club could be back in the NCAA tournament.
9) Northwestern Wildcats at NC State Wolfpack (Dec. 4): This game certainly has some intrigue heading into the summer. Northwestern has a new coach at the helm, as former Duke assistant Chris Collins is taking over for Bill Carmody. Leading scorer Drew Crawford also received another year of eligibility, which is a big boost to the Wildcats. On the other side, NC State is facing a year of questions. C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown went pro, Rodney Purvis transferred, and Richard Howell and Scott Wood are out of eligibility. Mark Gottfried's club will be carried by freshmen and sophomores.
10) Illinois Fighting Illini at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Dec. 3): Illinois faces an interesting upcoming season, as the Fighting Illini lose their top two scorers in Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson . They do bring in a solid group of frosh and transfers, though. Georgia Tech will lean on rising sophomores Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter . Both teams are looking to move up in the standings.
11) Boston College Eagles at Purdue Boilermakers (Dec. 4): Both teams are looking to take a step forward next season, as young pieces return on both sides. Boston College has the inside-outside duo of Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson , while Purdue brings back a quality group of sophomores and rising senior Terone Johnson . This could be a momentum-builder for the winner.
12) Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes at Nebraska Cornhuskers (Dec. 4): The Hurricanes will take a significant hit this season and be in major rebuilding mode -- especially if Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez doesn't receive a waiver to play this season from the NCAA. Jim Larranaga lost all five starters from last year's group, and Tim Miles is still trying to assemble enough talent in Lincoln to make the Cornhuskers relevant. This game is probably a good one to watch if you want to take a nap.
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