Wednesday night marked the final night of the 2019 Big Ten-ACC Challenge and it was absolutely packed with marquee matchups. All told, six Big Ten teams were in action and the league was able to win four of the games, coming away with an 8-6 advantage in this year’s Challenge.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes 74, No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels 49
Despite Ohio State blowing out Villanova last month, many still seemed to be sleeping on Ohio State heading into Wednesday’s matchup against North Carolina. The critics continued to say they “needed to see more” and wanted to see the Buckeyes play on the road before buying in.
Well, those discussions are over now.
Ohio State went on the road and absolutely dominated a top 10 North Carolina team in their house. The win pushed the Buckeyes to 8-0 overall and to No. 2 nationally on KenPom. The Tar Heels kept it close for a bit, by the second half, it was clear who had the better team. Ohio State’s defense was absolutely unbelievable, holding North Carolina to just 49 points and 0.75 points per possession.
Obviously, this is a huge win for the Buckeyes moving forward. When you win a game like this, season expectations re-calibrate. This team is not only good enough to win the Big Ten, but seems more than capable of making a deep run in March. In fact, Ohio State needed to be in the discussion for a one seed at this point. And considering where this program was just a few years ago, that’s incredible.
Now, Ohio State will come back home and prepare for a showdown with Penn State at home on Saturday. It’s another chance to add a quality win to the team’s resume.
-No. 3 Maryland Terrapins 72, Notre Dame Fighting Irish 51
This one looked pretty one-sided coming in and that’s exactly how it ended up, as Maryland cruised to a 21-point victory at home. It was a nice and solid win, but won’t change expectations a ton for this team. This was a game Maryland was supposed to win and the Terps got the job done. Maryland will now prepare to face Illinois at home on Saturday for a chance to move to 10-0 on the season for the first time in the KenPom era.
-Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 73, Nebraska Cornhuskers 56
We knew it would take a lot for the Huskers to come out of this matchup with a win. Nebraska has been struggling for much of the season and got slated for a road game against what projects to be a better team. And to no one’s surprise, Nebraska couldn’t get the job done and fell to Georgia Tech to drop to 4-4 on the season.
Nebraska will now prepare for a road game to face Creighton on Saturday. That figures to be an even tougher matchup than Wednesday night’s game.
Another obstacle and another favorite result for Penn State on Wednesday night. Ever since the season started, many have thought the bottom would drop out for the Nittany Lions, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. And Wednesday night was another example of that, as Penn State took care of business against a top 100 opponent at home.
The Nittany Lions will now prepare for one of the team’s biggest challenges of the season, as the team will go on the road to face Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes are absolutely red hot, so Penn State will have its work cut out.
-Purdue Boilermakers 69, No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers 40
Outside of the Ohio State-North Carolina game, this was the biggest matchup of the night, as Virginia went on the road to face Purdue in a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight. All told, Purdue was able to come out and absolutely dominant. Virginia’s offense could never get anything going all night and Sasha Stefanovic had it going all night, finishing with 20 points and three rebounds.
Given how Purdue has blown some of its resume-building opportunities this season, Wednesday night’s win over Virginia was a big one. This is a huge win that will pay dividends when we get to Selection Sunday. And it has to help fans get over last March’s loss to the Cavaliers, even if just a bit. Purdue will now prepare to host Northwestern at home on Sunday.
After a frustrating performance in New York last week, Badger fans were hoping the team could get back on track on Wednesday night on the road against NC State. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as Wisconsin fell 69-54 to the Wolfpack. The loss dropped Wisconsin to 4-4 overall. At this point, it’s time to start worrying about the Badgers. Perhaps the team can bounce back on Saturday at home against a red hot Indiana team.