- This week's roundtable makes picks for this year's ACC-Big Ten challenge matchups and measures upset potential of Duke-Indiana and more.
Welcome back to the Tuesday Shootaround! The annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge is here, bringing a surplus of above-average to elite non-conference matchups as the two leagues battle for surpremacy. After the ACC dominated the challenge a season ago, winning 11–3, the Big Ten is looking to rebound after placing seven teams in Monday's top 25.
This year's challenge picked off on Monday night, with Nebraska edging Clemson for a big win on the road and Boston College defeating Minnesota at home, but the real meat of the matchups comes on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Wednesday will bring three top-25 matchups, while Tuesday features No. 3 Duke and No 9. Michigan State and three other ranked teams in action. Who will come away with a victory? Our staff made their picks.
Tuesday, Nov. 27 Games
No. 13 Virginia Tech at Penn State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Illinois at Notre Dame (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 9 Michigan State at Louisville (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Pittsburgh at No. 14 Iowa (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
NC State at No. 22 Wisconsin (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Indiana at No. 3 Duke (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Wednesday, Nov. 28 Games
Syracuse at No. 16 Ohio State (7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Rutgers at Miami (7:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 4 Virginia at No. 24 Maryland (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No. 19 Purdue at No. 15 Florida State (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Georgia Tech at Northwestern (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 11 North Carolina at No. 7 Michigan (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Additionally, we asked our writers a couple roundtable questions about this year's ACC-Big Ten Challenge:
What does Indiana have to do to hang with Duke at Cameron Indoor?
Dan Greene: Make shots and take care of the ball. (Groundbreaking stuff, I know.) Gonzaga did a lot of things right last week, but shooting 52.3% from the floor (including 52.6% from three) was a huge part of what the Bulldogs were able to pull off, as was turning the ball over just 11 times. When you prevent the opportunities for defensive rebounds or fast breaks off live-ball turnovers, you can can limit the Blue Devils' chances to trample you with their multiheaded transition game. The good news for the Hoosiers is they rank third nationally in effective field-goal percentage. The bad news: they rank 238th in turnover percentage.
Jeremy Woo: Ritual sacrifice a bucket of chicken before the game.
Emily Caron: Indiana needs to protect its homegrown freshman phenom, Romeo Langford, and give him room to get to the basket if it wants to hang with Duke down in Durham. All of the Blue Devils defenders will be eyeing the Hoosiers' biggest scoring threat. If Langford can’t get open or can’t get to the rim, the lengthy guard won’t be able to help his team much against a talented Duke offense. Langford is a good enough ball handler to make some maneuvering magic, but he’ll need some of his teammates to step up and take the attention off of him for that to happen. Juwon Morgan, Rob Phinisee and De’Ron Davis (who can hopefully get a few more minutes in against Duke as he makes his return from a torn ACL), will all need to play far better than they have this season so far.
Eric Single: A career night from Juwan Morgan (we're talking 30-plus from the senior who has played Duke twice before) and Romeo Langford playing R.J. Barrett to a stalemate could get the Hoosiers in position to have a shot for the win in the final minute, but that's as far as I'm willing to go.
Michael Shapiro: Other than Romeo Langford dropping 40, it’s hard to envision a path to victory for the Hoosiers. Gonzaga played nearly the perfect game vs. Duke in the Maui Invitational, shooting 64.5% in the first half. The Zags’ 89–87 victory could very well be preview for a Final Four rematch. Indiana isn’t as talented, experienced or disciplined as the Zags, though, and giving Mike Krzyzewski a week to prepare for a high-profile game at Cameron Indoor doesn’t seem like a winning recipe. Indiana should be happy if it keeps this one in single digits.
Archie Miller would be smart to employ a zone in spurts, daring the Blue Devils young trio to beat Indiana from beyond the arc. Duke’s offense looked mortal for the first time against Gonzaga’s zone. The Blue Devils made just five threes on the afternoon, and coaxing R.J. Barrett into a slew of jumpers seems preferable than letting him slice and dice the Hoosiers’ defense one-on-one. A zone does free up the offensive glass for Zion Williamson, but with Duke, you have to pick your battles. The Hoosiers’ chances of an upset are slim-to-none, but riding Langford and shifting to a zone is likely their best bet.
Molly Geary: It’s going to be tough for the Hoosiers to keep this close. Juwan Morgan will need to do his damndest to lead a charge to keep the Blue Devils' off the offensive boards as much as possible—the 22 Duke had against Gonzaga is not going to cut it here when it comes to an upset. Indiana needs to be clicking on offensive, obviously, and come out like it did against Marquette. That's going to be much tougher to do against the Blue Devils—and on the road in Durham—however. Getting one or more of Duke's "Big Three" into foul trouble would certainly help the Hoosiers' case to at least make things interesting.
Max Meyer: For all of Duke’s talent, point guard Tre Jones’s play as the floor general is the biggest X-factor for this team. He’s strong in the open court, and him creating transition opportunities is where the Blue Devils are at their scariest. Gonzaga limited Duke's fast breaks, and forced the Blue Devils to beat it with ultra-efficient half-court offense. As a result, Jones had only three assists and two turnovers, a drop-off from his 30 assists and six turnovers coming into that game. Indiana will have to force Duke to play the same way to keep it competitive. If this one turns into a track meet, the Hoosiers won’t be able to keep up.
Which above game has the most upset potential?
Greene: Not counting the minor Purdue-FSU upset I picked, I'll go with North Carolina State at Wisconsin. I like the Badgers a good deal this season, but this is more a reflection of the Wolfpack being a strong underdog. Until it needed to survive a late rally by Mercer on Saturday, Kevin Keatts's team had been stomping its way through a soft non-conference schedule by pushing tempo with a small-ball lineup—if it can control the tempo against the more methodical Badgers, it may be able to make the hosts uncomfortable. But NC State will also need big men Wyatt Walker and DJ Funderburk to clamp down on versatile Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ, which is no small ask.
Woo: Syracuse-Ohio State. Although it’s not expressly an upset, the currently unranked Orange (who opened in the Top 25) failed their first two tests against high-major opposition at the 2K Classic, but are due for some positive offensive regression and face an Ohio State team (ranked No. 23) that lacks the size and personnel to thrive playing inside-out against their 2–3 zone. A strong defensive showing, a cold shooting night from the Buckeyes and a big game from Tyus Battle might get the job done, even on the road.
Caron: Virginia at Maryland. While the Terps haven’t played any top-ranked teams yet this season, they still managed to put up 104 points against Marshall on Friday. That kind of offensive output is always a challenge for Virginia, which, if it can’t perfectly contain Maryland with its Pack Line Defense, might struggle to match them on the other side of the ball. Add in that the game is in College Park and the Terps could do a lot with a big non-conference win to complement their 6–0 start, and& Virginia might be in for a tougher test than anticipated.
Single: I picked it, so I'll defend it. Louisville just came back from an 0–2 trip to Brooklyn when it stayed within five points of Tennessee for over 30 minutes and held Marquette to 30 points by halftime in an eventual overtime loss. You may have noticed the theme here—there's a chance the Cardinals just don't have the horses to close out good teams—but sophomore Jordan Nwora looks ready to rise to moments like this, and a feisty home crowd could be enough to lift Louisville to finish off the Spartans if it smells blood.
Shapiro: I consider it a bit of a cop-out to claim North Carolina as an upset over Michigan, so let’s go with Syracuse over Ohio State in Columbus. The Buckeyes have cruised thus far, but should fall back to Earth, playing closer to the middling Big Ten squad many expected before the season. Their opponent three-point percentage of 25.6% will progress to the mean, and I’m skeptical of Ohio State’s firepower against Syracuse’s zone.
As for the Orange, a pair of disappointing losses in the 2K classic hasn’t dissipated my optimism. Frank Howard’s return will boost the Cuse’s middling attack, shifting Tyus Battle back to a more familiar role off the ball. If freshman Jalen Carey can limit the turnovers, Syracuse’s offense should see an uptick in production. This should be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair, but expect Syracuse to leave Ohio with its first signature win of the season.
Geary: I picked Maryland over Virginia, which I would say I'm optimistic about rather than fully confident in. This matchup is the polar opposite of the one the Terps just had against Marshall, where it blew the Thundering Herd out behind a fast-paced attack. They won't be able to do that against the Hoos and their methodical Pack Line Defense and tempo, so the Terrapins' chances in this one comes down to their ability to make shots. Maryland got off to a dismal start this year shooting the three ball, but has been improving of late and made 9 of 16 against Marshall. Freshmen Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala will be key in this one and must step up alongside junior point guard Anthony Cowan. Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith are excellent inside and on the offensive boards but will have their hands full against the Pack Line, and the Terps must find a way to slow De'Andre Hunter, who averaged 19.3 points at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Meyer: Since taking over for Mark Gottfried, North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts has quickly made his mark on the program. The Wolfpack roll with four guards on the floor, which boosts spacing on offense and boosts a defense that emphasizes pressure (NC State is fourth in the country by forcing a turnover on 26% of defensive possessions). This will be an interesting clash of styles, as NC State likes to play uptempo while Wisconsin grinds it out in defensive slugfests. The Wolfpack don’t have a lot of height, which could cause them problems against Ethan Happ, but it’s hard not to love their upperclassmen guards in Torin Dorn, C.J. Bryce and Markell Johnson. Don’t be confused by their size, though, this is an excellent rebounding team (fourth in offensive rebound percentage at 41.8, 18th in allowing offensive rebounds at 21.3%). And the Wolfpack do a very nice job on perimeter defense, where Wisconsin has shot well from to start the season. NC State pulled off upsets over Duke and North Carolina in Keatts’s first season at the helm, and the team can certainly do so again in Madison.