Most of the early season college basketball tournaments have ended, but it is not time for conference play just yet. In the Big Ten, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge started yesterday, but most of the key games are being played tonight and tomorrow. In tonight's games there are plenty of ranked opponents and plenty of teams that are still trying to figure things out. Below is a preview of the six games tonight.
Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Game of the Night: #2 Maryland Terrapins vs. #9 North Carolina (9:30 PM ET| ESPN)
This is by far the best game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Both of these teams have the potential to win a national championship and this is the first real test for both teams, even though North Carolina did get upset by Northern Iowa earlier in the year (team was without star guard Marcus Paige).
Maryland started to show some signs of improvement at the Cancun Challenge after their near losses to much weaker teams (Rider). The Terps played excellent against Rhode Island and every one of their starters except Jake Layman scored at least 10 points in that contest. North Carolina is certainly not a national title contender without Marcus Paige, but he might return for this big game.
Everyone should be tuning into ESPN later tonight; no matter if you are a fan or not.
The Rest of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tonight
- Michigan Wolverines vs. NC State (7:00 PM ET| ESPN2)
Michigan has been pretty good this year so far, but sometimes they rely too heavily on their best players in Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, and Derrick Walton Jr. Their bench players have been struggling, but they have been getting a lot of production from Duncan Robinson off the bench, who is averaging 9.3 PPG, as well as shooting 57.7 percent from deep.
The Wolverines need to show that they can have other players step up, not just LeVert, Irvin, and Walton Jr. Michigan will have to show that they can defend in this game because Anthony Barber has been on fire as of late and the Wolfpack have a very athletic frontcourt. LeVert and Barber will be the best players on the court by far, but who else will step up for both teams in this intriguing matchup?
- Northwestern Wildcats vs. Virginia Tech (7:00 PM ET| ESPNU)
Northwestern has played extremely well this season and in their lone loss to North Carolina showed that they could compete with some of the better teams in the nation. The team is shooting 40 percent from deep, which is a big reason as to why they have been so successful this season. They are also getting scoring from everyone, not just their starters. The Wildcats have a deep team and are going to play Virginia Tech just fine on the road.
- #12 Virginia vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (7:30 PM ET| ESPN)
Ohio State is on a three game losing streak and two of those losses are against mid-major teams. The Buckeyes have not looked good at all this season and they are struggling on both ends of the floor. A game against Virginia could get the team back on track, but Virginia's lockdown defense could be too much for Ohio State to handle since they struggle scoring as it is.
There is a lot on the line for Ohio State in this game because they have to prove to themselves that they can compete with good teams. A win over Virginia would be huge for this struggling Ohio State team.
- #16 Purdue Boilermakers vs. Pittsburgh (9:00 PM ET| ESPN2)
Purdue has been one of the most impressive teams in the Big Ten so far, dominating opponents in every game they have played. This game against undefeated Pittsburgh will be their biggest test so far in the season. The frontcourt players like Caleb Swanigan, Issac Haas, and A.J. Hammons should have their way with a much weaker Pittsburgh frontcourt. Haas, Swanigan, and Hammons should be too strong and powerful inside for the Panthers. People around the country should start noticing Purdue and if they do not realize how good Purdue is, they might after this game.
Something to potentially note, though, is that defensive leader Rapheal Davis is questionable and might not participate tonight.
- #15 Miami vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (9:00 PM ET| ESPNU)
Although Nebraska did not win a big game over Cincinnati, the team did show that they are not going to be an easy team to beat. Andrew White III has been great, but during the Barclays Center Classic Tai Webster stole the show. He played terrific for the team and he even made the tournament team. He had a huge weekend for the Cornhuskers and even though Shavon Shields and White did not play very well in their last game against Tennessee, they still found a way to win. This Nebraska team is dangerous and they are going to be very hard to beat at home, so Miami better come prepared for a challenge.