Point/Counterpoint: Which conference will win this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge?

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 30, 2010 7:20 AM

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Last year was the Big Ten's first victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in the contest's 11 years of existence. And as for now, it will remain the league's only one.

The problem for the Big Ten in this year's challenge is a simple one: The middle and bottom teams of the ACC are just better than the Big Ten's middle and bottom teams. Penn State is one of the worst major conference basketball teams there is and has really no chance against Maryland, which isn't exactly the class of the ACC.

Same goes for Michigan against Clemson. Two very similar teams when you consider that every year they fail to live up to expectations — but if Clemson were in the Big Ten, it would probably finish near the top of the pack.

This year, the top of the Big Ten is better overall than the ACC, at least on paper. But Duke is the class of its conference and certainly won't lose to Michigan State, which almost lost to Division-II Chaminade. Yes, the Big Ten has some great teams, but they've shown that they're vulnerable, even early in the season. Purdue lost to Richmond by 11, and Virginia Tech is as good as, if not better than, the Spiders.

Those four appear to be in the ACC's favor, and considering Boston College versus Indiana and Wake Forest versus Iowa are games played at the home courts for the eastern schools, it seems sound that the ACC will squeak out yet another victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

— by Ian Martin

Big Ten

After 10 years of frustration for the conference, the Big Ten finally broke through to win an ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the first time last year. And this year, the Big Ten plays an unfamiliar role — the role of favorite. Five Big Ten teams are ranked in the AP Top 25, while only one ACC team, No. 1 Duke, is ranked. Led by No. 2 Ohio State, the Big Ten will make it two in a row and win this year's challenge.

The second-ranked Buckeyes, led by senior David Lighty and freshman phenom Jared Sullinger, should overwhelm Florida State in Tallahassee. Sullinger has averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in Ohio State's first five wins. It is also worth noting that Ohio State beat Florida by 18 points, while the Gators defeated the Seminoles.

No. 20 Illinois hosts a North Carolina team that has underachieved in the early part of the season, with two losses in Puerto Rico dropping the Tar Heels from the rankings. Preseason All-American Harrison Barnes has not been spectacular at all, averaging just 11.8 points per game, including six in a loss against Minnesota. In Champaign, the Illini get the victory.

No. 22 Purdue has a tough test in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech, but a big game from JaJuan Johnson against the Hokies will be enough for the Boilermakers to get a win.

Wisconsin hasn't been overly impressive, but the Badgers are really tough to beat in Madison. Add in that North Carolina State's leading returning scorer, Tracy Smith, is injured, and you have a recipe for a Badger win.

Northwestern and Indiana are both on the road, yet both the Hoosiers and the Wildcats will head home with wins. Northwestern will break down Georgia Tech with its Princeton offense, and Indiana will defeat a Boston College team that lost to Yale.

Even with a loss by conference power Michigan State at Duke, the Big Ten will amass enough victories to claim the Big Ten/ACC Challenge championship.

— by Ryan Murphy

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