Ranking the ACC/B1G Challenge Games

The schedule of games for the annual challenge has been released, let’s rank em

  1. Duke at Michigan State: Yes, you read that correctly. I won’t call this a rematch because they won’t be the same teams, but this is a potential preview for a game that could be played in late March. Both the Spartans and Blue Devils will be top 5 teams heading into the season and while this matchup feels like it happens every year, these two programs have met in the challenge only twice since 2010.
  2. Ohio State at North Carolina: Two of my top 25 will get after it on December 4th and this should be a great game. Kaleb Wesson vs Garrison Brooks on the low block, DJ Carton (#4 point guard in the 2019 class) vs Cole Anthony (the #1 overall player in the class). It will also be a nice test for UNC’s graduate transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce who both transferred up in competition.
  3. Notre Dame at Maryland: I find myself alone on this Notre Dame hill, but I am not shaken. This is a good team and they will get a chance to prove it against one of the best teams on paper in the country in Maryland. The Terps will look to break that 0-6 in their last six games of the challenge streak. They will no doubt hear more about that as the challenge nears. These are two of the more interesting teams in the country for my money.
  4. Virginia at Purdue: There seems to be a lot of people that are really looking forward to this game. Carsen Edwards is gone people. Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and DeAndre Hunter are all gone. This game is going to be a grind. I have neither of these two in my current top 25, but I can see why some people have both of them in. The thing I am looking forward to seeing the most is Mamadi Diakite and Trevion Williams squaring off.
  5. Miami at Illinois: Pipe down. Truth be told there are some garbage games in this challenge. This one at least has the advantage of having some star power. Is Illinois going to press Miami and Chris Lykes? Can Lykes hang with either Ayo or Frazier on the defensive end? What are we going to get from Kofi (Roosterfire) Cockburn? Will he break the backboard? All of these are legitimate questions and I can’t wait for all of them to be answered.
  6. Wisconsin at North Carolina State: This is a program rematch from last year’s challenge that took place in Madison. Wolfpack fans will be all over Badger point guard Brad Davison after he took about a bazillion charges in last year’s game. Duke already does that, we don’t need another team that does that. Much like last year this will be an interesting contrast in styles between two teams that will be perimeter orientated.
  7. Iowa at Syracuse: Sure. Let’s put this one at #7. If Jordan Bohannon doesn’t play for Iowa next year I am not sure how good the Hawkeyes are going to be. Without Battle and Brissett I am not sure how good Syracuse is going to be. It will be fun watching Dolezaj and Sidibe chase Luka Garza all over the court though. I am glad I am not picking these games yet.
  8. Michigan at Louisville: This one is a reeeeeeeal paper tiger. You see these two names and think “Damn, that’s going to be an awesome game!” Probably not. Now, if Michigan wins, it becomes very interesting because Louisville should probably boat race Juwan Howard’s first year Wolverine squad given their losses. Then again…23 points in 10 minutes. Yikes.
  9. Nebraska at Georgia Tech: This could be a sneaky good game, but I am going to be honest, who knows. I could try and tell you that I have any idea about the Nebraska roster right now, but I don’t know and haven’t seen almost any of those guys. I also don’t know if Georgia Tech will have transfers Jordan Usher and Bubba Parham for this game. The coaching match-up is interesting as far as personality goes. You super energetic positive nice guy Josh Pastner on one side and the guy who seems like he’s been practicing to be a pissy grandfather for 10 years in Fred Hoiberg on the other side.
  10. FSU at Indiana: Another paper tiger. Go look at the rosters, I’ll wait. Yeah, see? There are some interesting players in this game to be sure. Trayce Jackson-Davis is a stud freshman for Indiana, but I still have a lot of questions. On the Seminole side, is this the year we finally see MJ Walker realize his potential? Will Trent Forrest take that next step? What will Coach Hamilton get out of this front court?
  11. Pitt at Rutgers: At least this game has a little bit of star power to it. One of the things I am really looking forward to seeing next year is that Pitt backcourt and how they have progressed. Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens have the potential to be one of the best in the ACC if either sticks around long enough. For the Scarlet Knights, Geo Baker is a nice player and incoming freshman Paul Mulcahy plays with a high level of confidence and style, but this program just took a good nut punch with the sudden transfer of Eugene Omoruyi.
  12. Clemson at Minnesota: The “who gets fired first” bowl. Amir Coffey would have been the biggest reason to watch this game, but he went pro. Former Pitt point guard Marcus Carr will be on the floor for the Gophers this year so there is that. So. yeah. This is a game that will be played.
  13. Wake Forest at Penn State: The “wow those guys still have jobs?” bowl. Tune in for Brandon Childress hopefully shooting 30 footers. Did you know that he and his dad are the highest scoring father-son duo in ACC history? I like Childress, but I can’t wait until he graduates so Dan Bonner can find another way to annoy me.
  14. Northwestern at Boston College: If Wynston Tabbs plays, I’ll probably watch the first half.
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