Cody Zeller will have to play well for Indiana to beat NC State; his brother Tyler and his North Carolina team will take on Wisconsin.
The Big Ten / ACC Challenge is my favorite part of the pre-conference season. There are a lot of good teams involved, and it's good for the conference teams to rally against a common enemy. This year's edition starts tomorrow, and our preview for Tuesday's games can be found here. Here are our picks and some short previews for Wednesday's games:
Indiana at NC State: The Wolfpack has a loss to Vanderbilt and a win against Texas on their resume. IU has had a very successful season so far, with their wide margin of victory against Butler being their most impressive win so far. We are taking a wait-and-see approach with the Hoosiers, as they have struggled on the road under Coach Crean.
PICK: NC State
Penn State at Boston College: Tim Frazier has been having a great season so far for Penn State, but they are still a very young team. BC has been pretty terrible in the early going, but we think they'll get up for this game on their home court.
PICK: Boston College
Florida State at Michigan State: The Seminoles followed up a loss to Harvard with a win against UCONN. Draymond Green and the Spartans finally get to play a home game against a quality opponent. Their two losses came against powerhouse ACC teams Duke and North Carolina at Madison Square Garden and on an aircraft carrier. We'll give MSU the edge since they're playing at home.
PICK: Michigan State
Virginia Tech at Minnesota: The big story in this game is how the Gophers deal with Trevor Mbakwe's absence. Mbakwe tore his ACL on Sunday and will miss the season. We think it will be too much for Minnesota to overcome in this game.
PICK: Virginia Tech
Wake Forest at Nebraska: We were pretty rough on Nebraska in our preseason predictions, and, as the newest member of the conference, the Huskers need to earn our confidence. Wake Forest is our pick, but Nebraska has a great chance of helping their new conference win the Challenge.
PICK: Wake Forest
Wisconsin at North Carolina: The Tar Heels loss to UNLV dropped them from #1 to #5 in the polls, but they'll still be favored in this game. Harrison Barnes rolled his ankle in their loss to UNLV; it remains to be seen if he will be at 100%. The Badgers haven't had much trouble this season, but a win at UNC would be still be a pretty big upset.
PICK: North Carolina
We picked Tuesday's games to go 5-1 for the Big Ten, and Wednesday's 5-1 for the ACC. It doesn't take a math expert to figure out those numbers add up to 6-6. If anything, I think our picks may have been a bit pessimistic; if a couple of the toss-up games go the Big Ten's way, then we will be looking at three straight Challenge wins for the Big Ten.