The Big Ten-ACC challenge was in full swing Tuesday night with six match-ups in the annual event. The second day of games resulted in a split between the two conferences, leaving the event at a 4-4 tie and giving the Atlantic Coast a great chance at securing its first victory in the event since 2008.
Game Of The Night: Northwestern 81, Virginia Tech 79 (OT)
Unlike last Tuesday's recap, this week's games weren't a complete heap of garbage. In fact, you could have made a case for just about any of the six games to be nominated as the "Game of the Night". Alas, I have settled on the Northwestern Wildcats overtime victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies because, maybe, possibly, could it be the year that the Wildcats finally going dancing this season? Well, obviously, there is a lot of basketball to be played, but the 6-1 start should give the folks in Evanston some hope.
The trio of Bryant McIntosh, Tre Demps, and Alex Olah are going to carry the Wildcats if we are going to finally put an end to the whole, "isn't it hilarious that Northwestern hosted the first men's basketball championship but have never themselves actually participated in the post-season tournament?" Olah had a quiet five points, but McIntosh dropped a team-high 19 points including the game-winning layup with 27 seconds to go in the extra period. Demps chipped in 17 himself as the Wildcats shot nearly 48-percent from the floor.
Virginia Tech battled back from a 9-point halftime deficit thanks to 25 points off the bench from junior guard Seth Allen, who had 23 off the bench for the Hokies on Saturday off the bench against UAB and maybe it would be best to just start him. The Hokies took their first and only lead of the game in overtime, jumping out to a 77-73 lead, before Northwestern finished the game on an 8-2 run.
No. 2 Maryland 81, No. 9 North Carolina 89
Tuesday night was the first opportunity to see the preseason No.1 team in North Carolina at full strength as senior guard Marcus Paige made his season debut after recovering from a hand injury. He certainly did not disappoint, scoring 20 points and dishing out 5 assists in a game that the Tar Heels controlled throughout.
The Maryland Terrapins were able to battle back from a 12-point North Carolina lead, even tying the game at 69 apiece with just under 9 minutes left. However, Maryland could never get over the hump and North Carolina pulled away in the closing minutes. Melo Trimble continued to be as good as advertised, scoring 23 points with 4-of-5 made 3's, almost keeping Maryland in the game single-handed. On the flip-side Diamond Stone continues to not "WOW" anyone scoring a pedestrian 9 points and pulling down 5 rebounds. Simply put, he needs to step up if the Terrapins want to be considered a legitimate title contender, and on the same note, Jake Layman has to be better than the 4 point performance he had Tuesday.
No. 11 Purdue 72, Pittsburgh 59
The Purdue Boilermakers showed on the road Tuesday night that they will not be a team that goes away this season. Senior guard Raphael Davis sat out with a knee injury, but despite this, the Boilermakers were able to jump out to an early 17-point advantage. That lead evaporated in the closing minutes of the first half, mainly do to this annoying thing that Purdue does where they get this pretty terrible idea that they can shot from outside as well as their arch-rivals from the southern part of Indiana. They can't. Well, freshman Ryan Cline can and should as he knocked down four second half 3's.
What the Boilermakers can do better than the men in candy-striped pants however is feed the low-post. Isaac Haas played just 9 minutes due to foul trouble and also because A.J. Hammons went off, scoring 24 points coming off the bench due to continued disciplinary actions from head coach Matt Painter. The Boilermakers having the ability to have a capable 7-foot tall big man on the floor for all 40 minutes of games makes this team a dark horse for a deep run now, but that may change to being a favorite in the coming months.
Michigan 66, NC State 59
Caris LeVert very nearly messed around and got a triple-double coming up a rebound and three assists short to go with his 18 points. Many of LeVert's assists came from feeding Duncan Robinson behind the arc, who knocked down 5 3-pointers and scoring 17 points. Michigan has started to get back on a roll following two early season losses, winning three straight against solid competition. NC State is an okay team, whose biggest accomplishment this season is being one of the teams that is helping the country realize that LSU actually isn't that good of a basketball team.
Nebraska 72, No. 21 Miami 77 (OT)
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have been one of the more interesting teams in the Big Ten during the season's first month. Nebraska seems to have some similarities to the squad from a couple of years ago that qualified for the NCAA Tournament, as they have been high-quality opponents, but have yet to close out one of these games. Tuesday night was the second example within the span of a week as a ranked Miami team was able to pull out a victory in overtime. Shavon Shields exploded for 28 points, but suffered from an apparent calf cramp and was not on the floor in the key moments of the extra five minutes. The Hurricanes' Davon Reed made his lone jump shot, a 3-pointer, in a 1-for-10 shooting effort in overtime giving Miami the lead for good. Nebraska now hits its soft spot in the schedule with a chance to rack up a handful of wins before conference play starts.
Ohio State 58, No. 10 Virginia 64
A silver lining game for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Tenn-ACC Challenge, as the team at least looked competitive against a top-10 team. The backcourt is a big issue for Ohio State and that was apparent against Virginiaas the Cavaliers starting guards Malcolm Brogdon and Darius Thompson combined for 34 points. Ohio State is now riding a four-game skid but the schedule barely eases up as games against UConn and Kentucky are on the horizon.
The Big Ten-ACC Challenge comes to a close as the final six games are on the docket Wednesday night. Things look promising for the ACC as will be favored in at least four of the games. The big showdown of the night is Indiana-Duke at Cameron Indoor. Also highlighting the night is Michigan State, who should be favored against a ranked Louisville squad as Tom Izzo and company get the Cardinals at home. Iowa - Florida State and Penn State - Boston College both feel like pushes and the ACC will be favored in the Wisconsin - Syracuse and Notre Dame - Illinois games. It is very likely that the challenge will once again end in a tie, but it is hard to look at that schedule and give the Big Ten a nod for at least four wins.