Today's Specials: The start of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge kicks off on Tuesday, with top-ranked Indiana putting its No. 1 status on the line against North Carolina.
|Can UNC sophomore James Michael McAdoo hold his own against Cody Zeller and Indiana's frontline? (US Presswire)|
Monday didn’t have too much going on, but the start of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge means we have plenty of things to look forward to on Tuesday. And not just North Carolina vs. Indiana.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: No. 14 North Carolina at No. 1 Indiana (9:30 p.m., ESPN). The most hyped game of the evening, Indiana will put its No. 1 ranking on the line when it hosts a young North Carolina team. There are several intriguing individual matchups in this one. First, the battle of freshman point guards in Yogi Ferrell and Marcus Paige. Then down low, two All-Americans will go head-to-head when Cody Zeller takes on James Michael McAdoo. North Carolina has the talent, but Indiana is a year ahead of the Tar Heels at this point.
Second-best game: No. 18 NC State at No. 3 Michigan (7:30 p.m., ESPN). Heading into the season, this game would have been much more enticing. Since then, though, North Carolina State was blown out by Oklahoma State and barely beat UNC-Asheville last week. With that said, the Wolfpack have the talent and weapons to give Michigan a run. Two of the best point guards in the country will go at it with Trey Burke and Lorenzo Brown. Michigan might be even better than people thought in the preseason -- this will be a good test.
Another one to watch: No. 21 Minnesota at Florida State (7:15 p.m., ESPN2). Intrigued to see how this one plays out. Despite Trevor Mbakwe slowly working his way back to full strength, Minnesota is off to a 6-1 start that includes wins over Memphis and Stanford. Meanwhile, Florida State has rolled off four in a row since a season-opening loss to South Alabama. The turnover battle could be a key -- neither team takes care of the ball all that well, but which team will be able to take advantage? Ian Miller sat out last game for Florida State; his return would be a boost.
Guaranteed win: Pittsburgh looked like it could be a dangerous team in the Big East during its games against Michigan and Kansas State in New York last week. Howard won’t be much of a problem for the Panthers (7 p.m., ESPN3/Regional TV). The Bison are currently winless against Division-I competition, and also have a loss to non-DI Lincoln.
Potential upset: The boost that Lehigh received from beating Duke in last year’s NCAA tournament is evidenced by the fact that the Mountain Hawks potentially losing at Quinnipiac on Tuesday (7 p.m.) would be considered an upset. Quinnipiac took Connecticut to the wire and also beat Iona. It could be closer than one thinks.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Going into the season, some people thought Iowa could be a sleeper in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes head on the road to face undefeated Virginia Tech (7:15 p.m., ESPNU).
- Northwestern sits at 6-0 right now, after its overtime win over Illinois State. How good are the Wildcats, though? They will attempt to prove their worth against Maryland (9:15 p.m., ESPN2).
- Vermont and Harvard could be automatic bid contenders in their respective conferences come March. They will meet on Tuesday (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network).
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