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Night Court: ACC out in front in Challenge with Big Ten

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Here's everything you should know about college basketball's Tuesday night. Above, see how ACC players badly screw up spelling a legend's last name ...

Game of the Night: Boise State beats Utah 69-67.

You might not have seen it, but Idaho hosted the best game of the night. The Broncos got out with a win in what proved to be an entertaining game down the stretch. Derrick Marks had 17 points, was aggressive and came off the bench late to allow BSU to maintain its lead on Utah. Anthony Drmic had 14.

Most importantly for Boise: This 7-0 start is the best in school history. Yes, that's right. The Broncos can be the class of the Mountain West, perhaps, but that's a discussion for January. For now, it's a team matching expectations, exceeding them in some respects as well. But the next one against a D-I club: at Kentucky. Win that, and everyone will wake up to what BSU is cooking.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Michigan's issues.

Nik Stauskas only got two shots off, had four points, and was a non-factor for the Wolverines in the team's 79-69 loss at Duke. The game wasn't ever really in doubt. Duke has won 107 straight at home against non-conference opponents. Michigan was outpaced and outplayed the entire game. Vermont gave a better showing in Cameron than Michigan did, but that's more credit to Duke tonight than a knock of UM.

Still, the 5-3 Wolverines have a lot of things to figure out. It's a team that's not deserving of a ranking, and although it has some nice pieces, without Trey Burke there's clearly a lack of direction right now. The offense looked downright out of sorts.

Quick note on Duke: A lot production all around, but Quinn Cook's 20 will go a long way for his confidence and that team's difficulty to scout. If Cook can contribute like he did tonight for the Devils, it's a real headache for opponents, even if the interior is still a work in progress.

That's a good win: Syracuse starts 1-0 in its ACC-Big Ten Challenge history.

The common trope from the 69-52 outcome: Indiana's continued failure to figure out the 2-3 zone. You'll recall it was Cuse who knocked IU out of the NCAAs last year, in that Sweet 16 game, largely because the Hoosiers were befuddled by the zone. On Tuesday night it was more of the same. There wasn't urgency, and in fact Indiana didn't get off nearly the number of shots it needed to. Check "Numbers to figure" below.

The Orange are still undefeated, yet despite having a First Team All-American-worthy player on its roster in C.J. Fair, there's not yet been a conversation about including Cuse in the nation's elite. Wonder if and when that'll come to be.

But that's a bad loss: Illinois collapses on the road to lose its first game of the year.

Playing at Georgia Tech, John Groce's team had a double-digit lead with a little more than nine minutes remaining. The Illini proceeded to allow 19 points, only score four, and wound up with the 67-64 loss. The Illini are now 7-1, but they've yet to play a team in the KenPom top 100. Illinois will have to do damage in the Big Ten, because it's non-conference won't have as much heft as a lot of other teams fighting for bids down the road.

For Georgia Tech, a really needed win. The Jackets looked OK in Brooklyn over the weekend but lost both games, at Penn State and Ole Miss.

Players with impact

  1. Tyler Ennis -- who had 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds -- is allowing Syracuse to transition really smoothly without Michael Carter-Williams. MCW is doing damage in the NBA, and Ennis is playing as well as anyone could've hoped.
  2. East Carolina senior Akeem Richmond and Presbyterian senior Jordan Downing each put up Tuesday-night-bests 37 points.
  3. J.J. Mann, the guy who hit the game-winner to beat UNC two and a half weeks ago, had 32, seven boards and four steals.

Numbers to figure:

13: Total number of shots taken by Indiana in the second half. Will unquestionably be a season-low, and may set the record in all of college basketball this season.

47: Non-conference home winning streak for Syracuse.

33: Home-game winning streak for Middle Tennessee State. The team at both ends of that streak? Read below.

Other outcomes of note:

  • The Big Ten got its first win of the Challenge thanks to Iowa's 98-93 win over Notre Dame. The Hawkeyes had five players in double figures and shot 57 percent from the field. Aaron White, who went for 20, eclipsed 1,000 points in his career. Notre Dame's Garrick Sherman had 29. The Irish failed to be consistently aggressive.
  • Minnesota was able to fend off Florida State, which I think is going to be the Virginia of the ACC this year. By that I mean: I think FSU's going to have some bad losses and still pull off getting a few really nice wins. Ultimately, I think it'll just miss out on the NCAAs.
  • Colorado got out of Fort Collins with a close win, taking out Colorado State 67-62. Next up for the Buffs: hosting Kansas on Saturday.
  • Pittsburgh had a nice challenge from Penn State, but in the final three minutes the Panthers were able to pull away and come up with the 78-69 win. Tim Frazier had a game-high 27 for the Nittany Lions. I hope that kid's final year ends with an NCAA tourney appearance. But it's going to be tough to get there.
  • Congrats to Miami University for getting off the schnide, earning win No. 1 with its 94-87 win against IPFW. Stetson is also no longer winless.
  • A battle of respected mid-major programs went Belmont's way, as the Bruins beat Middle Tennessee State 70-58. This was especially impressive considering junior Reece Chamberlain and sophomore Craig Bradshaw were out for Belmont because of injury.
  • A game effort from Alan Williams (23 points, eight rebounds) wasn't enough for Santa Barbara to overcome UCLA on the road. The Bruins pulled away in the final five minutes and won 89-76.

Notebook:

-- North Carolina Central was my pick to win the MEAC this season. The team is now 6-1 after beating Old Dominion 76-69.

-- Stetson, Cornell and now Tennessee State, after its loss tonight, are the only 0-9 teams in the country.

-- Creighton got itself right, winning by 17 on the road at Long Beach State.

-- FIU lost tonight to Nova. Nova Southeastern. And it wasn't close: 77-59. Yeeeesh.

-- Teams that remained undefeated: Arizona (8-0), Pittsburgh (8-0), Syracuse (8-0), UCLA (8-0), Boise State (7-0), Cincinnati (7-0), UMass (7-0).

-- This was unfortunate. The guy with the chest, I mean.

 
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