ACC Bucks the Trend on Night 3. Final Night of the Challenge Preview and Prediction

By Mychal Hunter

I’ll probably say it 100 times throughout the course of the season, home court matters so much in college basketball. Through the first two nights of the ACC/ Big 10 challenge, the home team had won six of the seven games. I pointed out yesterday that in the previous two years Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers had gone 6-15 in true road games over the past two years, and that while Ohio State was not a particularly good team, home court advantage always matters.

Well, the ACC showed their dominance last night, bucking the trend to go 3-1 on the road against the Big 10, the only team to lose was Boston College losing to Nebraska. Which hey, by the way, who said Evan Taylor would be a huge factor in that game? Right here amigo.

I got up early to watch the replay this morning and I must say, I was somewhat disappointed in Duke’s performance, they should have beaten that Hoosier team by 20. Clearly a case of a young team playing down to their competition on an opponents home floor.

NC State once again impressed, holding off a Tony Carr led Penn State team that didn’t go away quietly. Braxton Beverly was money from the free throw line to seal it and Al Freeman hit some big shots down the stretch as well. The key to this Wolfpack team is Omer Yurtseven, he seems to be the player this year that they were expecting last year and the team looks really good.

I didn’t catch a whole lot of the Michigan/UNC game but the Heels seemed to handle Michigan fairly easily.

I started to watch Miami and Minnesota, which was my game of the night in the Challenge but after a long day of walking the site and production schedule meetings, it was night-night for ole Peacone around 9:30ish. Face down ass up.

So tomorrow the new power rankings come out, I can’t quite finish them until tonight’s game is decided, which has the potential to be the best game of the entire slate. So here is the final preview and prediction for the 2017 ACC/B10 Challenge:

Notre Dame @ Michigan State (-6.5) 7pm ESPN

I always underestimate Notre Dame in these games. Always. Once again, in my eyes, the match-ups all over the court just do not favor the Irish.

Michigan State is coming off an impressive win over UNC where they really kind of dominated a top 10 team in the Tar Heels at the PK 80. State came out and punched UNC in the mouth and never looked back, building a 14 point halftime lead and held it pretty much the rest of the way. I don’t recall it ever getting back to single digits. One thing to take away from that game was the play of Joshua Langford. In only 23 minutes he scored 23 points on 8-11 shooting and 5-7 from three. It was possibly the best performance the former 5 star recruit has turned in since arriving in East Lansing. Miles Bridges has not been great in his last two games only averaging 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds after coming back from being a bit banged up. The Spartans are going to need him tonight if they are going to beat the Irish, if he can manage 25 productive minutes that will go a long way to ensuring the W.

I don’t know how the Irish are going to defend that Spartan front line. DJ Harvey will probably guard Bridges I think? I am not sure. Colson will probably split time between Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson. I don’t see Martinas Geben playing a ton tonight, I think he would be a tremendous liability on the defensive end, especially if Jackson, Bridges and Ward are all in the game at the same time. But that might also force Brey to get some height into his lineup. I guess Rex Pflueger could see some time against Bridges. I am not so much worried about Mike Brey’s bunch on the offensive end. They provide their own intriguing mismatches that Michigan State may struggle with. Can Winston and Langford stay in front of Farrell and Gibbs? What happens if Nick Ward has to guard Colson in space?

The most intriguing part of this game for me is the unknown. I really don’t know what to expect. Colson always gets up for the big games, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go for 22 and 15 with 3 blocks. Michigan State on the other hand is so loaded with talent and can create so many mismatches I do not see a how Notre Dame hangs with them unless Matty Ice goes unconscious from three, which is a real possibility. I am going to go with Michigan State here, they are playing well, they are at home, they have mismatches all over the front court and if Geben has to come out to guard those Jaren Jackson corner triples it could be a really long night.

Prediction: Michigan State 78 Notre Dame 71

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