This year’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge opened up on Monday night and it arrived with plenty of fireworks. There were only two games, but one featured a major battle between two of the nation’s better teams in Clemson and Nebraska.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 68, Clemson Tigers 66
Over the last year and half, Nebraska has been one of the better teams in the Big Ten. The Huskers have scored a plethora of quality wins, including victories over Boston College, Indiana, and Michigan. And considering what the Wolverines accomplished in the 2017-’18 season, that’s a pretty impressive win.
However, the one thing that has plagued Nebraska is the team’s play away from home. Nebraska simply hasn’t beaten anyone competent outside of its building in quite some time. The last truly remarkable win for Nebraska away from home came against Michigan State during the 2015-’16 season. And that Husker squad finished 16-18 overall.
This issue carried over into this season, too. Nebraska looked underwhelming for large segments of its game against a mediocre Missouri State team earlier this month on a neutral court and then got handled by Texas Tech the next night. All told, Nebraska was 1-4 in its last five games away from home heading into Monday’s battle against Clemson.
Early on, it looked like that might hold as well. The Huskers had some issues with containing Marcquise Reed and fell behind. However, Nebraska gradually asserted itself and took control heading into the final minutes of the game, eventually winning by a final score of 68-66 over a ranked Clemson team.
There’s little denying the significance of this win. Road wins against quality opponents are immensely difficult to get in college basketball and Nebraska just got one of the more impressive road wins for any team so far this season. The win also pushed the Huskers to 6-1 with its only loss coming against a very good Texas Tech team.
Whether Nebraska can keep this going remains to be seen, but fans have to be encouraged by this fast start. The Huskers will now move on and host Illinois at home on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the Gophers didn’t have as much success on Monday night as the Huskers, falling on the road to Boston College by double-digits. The game was relatively competitive through halftime, but things fell apart for Minnesota when Jordan Murphy fouled out. Dupree McBrayer also had a horrible showing, finishing with zero points on the night.
There’s little debating that this is a tough loss for the Gophers. This was an opportunity to pick up a road win against a beatable opponent. After all, Boston College lost to IUPUI on its home floor less than two weeks ago. Winning on the road is never easy, but this is a game that Minnesota could have won.
Minnesota now sits at 5-1 and will prepare for a game against Oklahoma State on Friday at US Bank Stadium.