It could be done separate. To argue about how the Big Ten is still currently better than the ACC in two separate articles and how the Big Ten get screwed in some select matches. It could be mentioned by myself twice of how easy schedules become right before conference play hits, but no. No! It is time to combine it into one piece of writing for this week.
Both the Spartans and the Golden Gophers hope to have a lot to be cheering about once the ACC/Big Ten Challenge begins. Both have minor tournaments to take care of immediately before the start of the Challenge. Michigan State is known for usually having the toughest matchup in the event by normally facing Maryland, Duke, or North Carolina. Not this year. Michigan State gets Florida State at home. The Seminoles are no inept on offense that Eastern Michigan could possibily outscore them.
But, watch out for Florida State. This team is sneaky every season because they are well-coached and have a great defensive mindset. The Spartans should be prepared because FSU will be State’s third foe faced from the ACC. The style of the ACC is very congruent around the conference. On that same late November night, Minnesota hosts Virginia Tech. This is an awful match for Minnesota in terms of records at the end of the year.
The Golden Gophers should be playing a weak opponent like Virginia again (p.s.: Minnesota lost to VA at home last year). They get the Hokies at home. It will be the toughest game for Minnesota in non-conference play. If they are able to come out of that game without much of a scratch, the Gophers will look good going into Big Ten competition.
December starts with USC at Williams Arena for Minnesota. The Trojans are a fine basketball club, but they are also very beatable. With Vucevic, the seven-footer from a year ago, they are going to have issues trying to defend against the frontcourt of Minnesota. Also coming into Williams Arena include North Dakota State, Appalachian State, St. Peter’s, and Central Michigan. All four of those games should be blowouts in the favor of the Golden Gophers.
For Michigan State, they try to fend off one pesky team in Florida State, but then have to face a known even peskier bunch in Gonzaga. The Spartans have to go out to Spokane to face the Bulldogs in mid-December. Gonzaga has a lot to prove to the NCAA after having an off-year in terms of their success in the past 10 years. In December, Michigan State also have cakewalks in Nebraska-Omaha, Central Connecticut, UMKC, Lehigh, and Bowling Green.
As stated last week, the Spartans need to win against hopefully two of their three opponents out of the ACC to really have a successful non-conference start to the season. Minnesota just needs to play consistent basketball and rely on the frontcourt that they have to win ballgames. Faith is had of Tom Izzo and Tubby Smith to lead these teams.