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ACC-Big 10 Challenge Recap

by Rick Dimon | December 3rd, 2008

Make it 10 straight for the ACC.

This one, however, came a little bit harder than most of the conference’s previous nine wins in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, and was a little bit more difficult than expected.

So bragging rights go to the ACC yet again, but let’s be honest, this is pretty much all about the individual teams. It’s only December, but it’s never too early to start having your own best interests in mind, especially when it comes to a Big Dance that is just three–yes, just three–months away.

So let’s take a look at the 11 winners, in order, who helped themselves most in terms of NCAA Tournament positioning.

Note: home team in bold

Ohio State 73, Miami 68
It’s hard to imagine that the Buckeyes would have won this game if Miami star Jack McClinton had not been ejected in the first half. But we’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. McClinton got the boot and Ohio State got a big win. The Buckeyes are certainly not a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but they should contend for a berth. If they end up being on the bubble, the committee will love this road win and it could be the difference. Beating a Top 25 team on its home court is always a major boost.

Duke 76, Purdue 60
Duke, as always, is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils, however, are not one of the big favorites to win it all as they sometimes are, so chalking up one of the four No. 1 seeds is not a foregone conclusion. But they are definitely looking like a No. 1 seed right now, and they especially did at Purdue. A road win against a Top 10 opponent is nothing short of huge. If Duke finishes a solid second in the ACC (or first if UNC somehow falters), this victory could have Coach K and company in line for a top seed.

Wisconsin 74, Virginia Tech 72
Wisconsin is a borderline certainty for the Big Dance, but the Badgers are not as good as they were last season. Then again, don’t tell them that after they picked up a big win away from home against Virginia Tech on Monday night. The Hokies, who had their bubble burst last season, could very well be a Tournament team this time around. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, Wisconsin can thank Trevon Hughes’ buzzer-beater for bolstering the team’s resume.

Clemson 76, Illinois 74
Most people probably expected Clemson to pull this one out against a less talented Illinois squad, but it was far from easy. A back-and-forth game the whole way saw Clemson take a two-point late lead and the Illini failed to get a shot off in the final seconds. It’s not exactly a standout win for the Tigers, but any road win against a Big 10 team is good one and will be just that in the eyes of the committee. Clemson could end up being a bubble team, too, so this will help.

Maryland 75, Michigan 70
This was a big win for Maryland more for confidence than for NCAA Tournament standing. The Terrapins, after stunning Michigan State, got blown out by Gonzaga and Georgia, so they needed this one. Michigan—a shocking upset of UCLA notwithstanding—is not a tournament team, so Maryland had to have this one at home to save from sliding even further into early-season doldrums. Greivis Vasquez did it all against the Wolverines, and if he continues such play, Maryland has a decent chance of dancing.

Penn State 85, Georgia Tech 83
Neither team is of NCAA Tournament-caliber, but this was still an impressive win for the Nittany Lions. Georgia Tech has more talent and had home-court advantage, but could not get the job done. Guards Stanley Pringle and Talor Battle were lethal against the Yellow Jackets, and Penn State could make some noise in the Big 10 if they continue to shoot lights out. If PSU somehow got on the bubble, this win would look good on a tournament resume.

Minnesota 66, Virginia 56
This was one of the few ACC-Big 10 Challenge games in which there’s a good chance neither competitor will end up even contending for the NCAA Tournament. Still, it was an important, albeit to five one young team or the other confidence heading into conference play rather than for Big Dance positioning. But if the Gophers surprises in Big 10 play and puts itself in tourney contention, it will be a good thing they took care of business at home. A loss would have been crippling.

North Carolina 98, Michigan State 63
The Tar Heels are going to get the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament (barring disaster) anyway. They won’t need an emphatic blowout win over Michigan State (on a neutral court, but much closer to Michigan State), but they got it nonetheless. What this will possibly do is strike even more fear into the hearts of ACC opponents.

Northwestern 73, Florida State 59
This is a very nice win for Northwestern, unfortunately it probably won’t mean much by the end of the season. The program appears to be on the rise, but the NIT (as opposed to the NCAA Tournament) is a realistic goal. As for Florida State, this won’t hurt too bad since it came on the road, but the Seminoles are most like a bubble team at best, so they need everything they can get.

Boston College 57, Iowa 55
This win is good simply because a loss would have been disastrous. Boston College was favored to get the best of Iowa, but the hosts barely survived when the Hawkeyes’ Andrew Brommer missed the front end of a one-and-one with less than a second left while down by two. The Eagles do not project to be an NCAA Tournament team at the moment, but you never know. If they had lost to Iowa at home, well, you’d know.

Wake Forest 83, Indiana 58
This was pretty much a no-win situation for Wake Forest, playing at home against arguably the worst team in the Big 10. Nonetheless, the Demon Deacons did what they had to do; which was take care of business and blow out the Hoosiers in routine fashion. This will not do anything for Wake Forest’s NCAA Tournament hopes since Indiana is terrible. The good news, though, is that the Deacons are good enough such that they probably won’t need a good against the Big 10.

Overall: ACC 6, Big Ten 5

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10 Responses to “ACC-Big 10 Challenge Recap”  

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  1. John Says:

    I think what this proves is that the middle of the Big Ten(Minnesota, Penn State, Iowa) is better than the middle of the ACC(Virginia, Boston College, Georgia Tech.) I think you are slightly underestimating the chances of Minnesota and Penn State. Yes, Ohio State won at Miami, but let’s take it easy. We all know the Hurricanes would have won had Jack McClinton not been thrown out of that game(which in my opinion, was suspect.) Let’s see Ohio State go win at Notre Dame on Saturday, then I will be convinced that they are a Tournament team. The Big 10 always gets a 4th team into the field of 65, and if Minnesota or Penn State(or Michigan or Illinois) for that matter finish 4th, they will make it. Not much to say from the ACC’s side except that North Carolina is so good, they have a legitimate chance of going undefeated.

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  2. Ricky Dimon Says:

    I don’t think this says the Big 10 is better than the ACC in any shape or form.

    It’s hard to say what the middle of the two conferences are, anyway. I mean in the ACC it’s UNC, then it’s Duke, then it’s everyone else. In the Big 10 it’s Michigan State, Purdue (?), Wisconsin, then everyone else.

    Furthermore, Penn State beating GT by 2 says little, BC beating Iowa by a missed FT says nothing, Clemson beating Illinois in the last seconds says nothing, and Wisconsin hitting a wild buzzer-beater to beat VT says nothing. All of those could have gone either way.

    It says the Big 10 did not lose as bad as a people thought. Other than that it didn’t say much to me.

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  3. John Says:

    My point was not to say that the Big 10 is better than the ACC. No one with any factual knowledge can possibly say that when you have a team that could potentially go undefeated. My point was that after Purdue, Michigan State and Wisconsin, a real opportunity was created for teams like Penn State and Minnesota to put a nice win on their resume(more likely Penn State.) and perhaps get to the NCAA Tournament if they finish 4th, because(let’s face it), if you believe people like Mike Francesa(if you know who that is) the committee looks at things like how you have done in recent tournaments or how many teams a conference has gotten in in recent years. If Penn State is close to the tournament, that win will help them an awful lot. And it’s funny that you say some of those games could have gone either way and that the Big 10 did not lose as badly as we thought, because most of those games you listed were won by the ACC. What does THAT tell you?

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  4. Ricky Dimon Says:

    It tells me that the Big 10 could have won. Did it tell you something other than that!??!!

    Having a team that could potentially go undefeated has nothing to do with whether or not a confidence is good or not, and it certainly has nothing to do with why the ACC is better than the Big 10.

    You think C-USA was the best conference in the nation because of Memphis last year? If you think that, you are crazy.

    If anything, having a team go undefeated would speak volumes about how BAD a conference is, not how GOOD.

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  5. David Mihm Says:

    I guess I’ll weigh in here:

    - I think the middle of the Big Ten is much better than I expected. Illinois playing Clemson close, Northwestern beating FSU, Iowa hanging with BC, and certainly Penn State winning really showed me something. I don’t think that the ACC, beyond Carolina and Duke, is anywhere close to the Big East or even Big XII.

    - It confirmed that UNC and Duke are really, really good.

    - John, this comment: “the committee looks at things like how you have done in recent tournaments or how many teams a conference has gotten in in recent years” is simply not true. Syracuse certainly would have made the Tournament two years ago if this were the case. South Alabama would have been left home last year in favor of Arizona State or even a “bigger name” mid-major.

    There are literally an unlimited number of examples that disprove this conspiracy theory. You may disagree with the Committee’s decisions but these kinds of things honestly play SUCH a small role they should not even be talked about.

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  6. John Says:

    @ Rick. Again, you missed the point. No one ever brought up Conference USA and we are not talking about last year. This is about the ACC and the Big Ten. Why does it say that a conference is bad because a team could potentially go undefeated? Your first statement is your truest. The Big Ten COULD have won. When have we ever said that before during one of these challenges? It tells me that the Big Ten could potentially be stronger than the ACC in the middle of the conference, not at the top. Stick with that theory and you are in good shape.

    @ David. I’m not the one who made that statement. It was Mike Francesa of WFAN Radio in New York City. Do you know who he is?

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  7. David Mihm Says:

    Hey John,

    Never heard of Mike Francesca, but it seemed like you were endorsing his comment in your own. Just wanted to make sure that people knew where I stood on that issue, regardless of who raised it :)

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  8. Ricky Dimon Says:

    I haven’t missed the point. I’m simply telling you what you said, which was that you can’t say the Big 10 is better than the ACC because the ACC has a team that could go undefeated.

    If somehow this wasn’t clear enough already, let me say it again: UNC possibly going undefeated has nothing to do with which conference is better.

    You missed the point on Memphis and C-USA. It was an example to refute your claim about undefeated teams.

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  9. John Says:

    @ David. Alright. If you are ever in New York, put on 660-AM and give him a listen. It was his statements and not mine.

    @ Rick. We all know that the ACC is better. I made that clear. My point was that it only enhances the conference, not hurt it the way you said it did. Let’s be honest, though, do these challenges mean that much? Last year, the Big 12-Pac 10 Hardwood Series was won by the Pac-10 7-5. Who won the National Championship? Yup. A Big 12 team.

    By the way, Ricky, can you at least put my name on here(@ John, Hey John) like everyone else does?

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  10. Ricky Dimon Says:

    @John yup, will do

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