In anticipation of this year's Big Ten - ACC Challenge, I decided to do a quick breakdown of each of the Challenge's eleven games. After looking at the lineup for 2009, I can say that this the first time since the inception of the Challenge that I can ever remember predicting that the Big Ten should definitely come out on top. Here's a list of all the games, my analysis of each, and my predicted winners in parentheses:
Penn State at Virginia: (Penn State) Penn State will be a surprise team this season with their guard play. Mark my words on this.
Wake Forest at Purdue: (Purdue) With the Final Four taking place this year in Indianapolis, Purdue and their talented junior class led by Robbie Hummel are one of my sleeper Final Four teams. Purdue will pounce on Wake Forest with a tough home court advantage in West Lafayette.
Northwestern at N.C. State: (Northwestern) The Wildcats are another one of my surprise teams for this season. Not only does their zone defense gives opponents fits, but they shoot the ball especially well from outside.
Maryland at Indiana: (Maryland) Indiana will improve this season with a heralded recruiting class, but even playing at Assembly Hall won't be enough to beat Maryland.
Michigan State at North Carolina: (Michigan State) Look for the Spartans avenge their lopsided losses to the Tar Heels last season at Ford Field in Detroit in both the Big Ten - ACC Challenge and the National Championship Game. MSU's depth and quickness should negate Carolina's stable of young big men.
Virginia Tech at Iowa: (Virginia) Another down season for the Hawkeyes. Okay, I don't have anything on either of these teams. This is just a miserable match-up.
Illinois at Clemson: (Illinois) This should be a good match-up where the ACC and Clemson could pull an upset. Illinois will need to show up on the road.
Minnesota at Miami: (Minnesota) Another pick 'em game. I like the toughness of Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers.
Boston College at Michigan: (Boston College) Manny Harris and company bring the Wolverines' high hopes for this year, I just don't think they are playing good enough man to man defense at this point in the season to feel confident in selecting them against B.C.
Duke at Wisconsin: (Duke) I see Wisconsin having their first "down" season in years. While you should never underestimate the Badgers at the Kohl Center, Duke is the type of school that is not intimidated by a hostile environment.
Florida State at Ohio State: (Ohio State) The Buckeyes are expected to be one of the elite teams in the Big Ten this season behind Evan Turner. I expect them to take care of business against Florida State at home.
Big Ten 7, ACC 4