The 2022 ACC-Big Ten Challenge tipped off on Monday night with two Big Ten teams in action. Northwestern faced off against Pittsburgh while Minnesota went on the road to face Virginia Tech. Both games had interesting conference implications.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Pittsburgh Panthers 87, Northwestern Wildcats 58
While this game didn’t end up being competitive, it deserves placement here as the Game of the Night because of its implications for the Wildcats and the league. This was a game where Northwestern entered as a decent favorite and got absolutely embarassed at home. It was a thoroughly disappointing effort.
The key to the game was Northwestern’s putrid defense, which gave up 1.36 points per possession to a Pittsburgh team that ranks 75th in offensive efficiency. The Panthers also shot an incredible 63.6 percent from three-point range. Blake Hinson finished with 22 points on the evening.
For Northwestern, this is a tough one to stomach. The Wildcats had shown a lot of progress so far this season and this loss mitigates much of it. If you’re hoping to be a serious NCAA contender, you can’t get blown out at home by teams like Pitt. These are games you have to find a way to win, even if you’re having an off night. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and the Wildcats will now have to regroup. That effort will start on Sunday on the road against a ranked Michigan State squad. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.
-Virginia Tech Hokies 67, Minnesota Golden Gophers 57
The Gophers entered this game as sizable underdogs and lived up to that billing, falling by double-digits on the road against Virginia Tech. Ta-Lon Cooper finished with 13 points, but nobody else in the starting lineup topped six points. It was a rough effort.
Minnesota fell to 4-3 with the loss and will now prepare for another challenging road game on Sunday against Purdue. It’s hard to see the Gophers come out on top in that one, but you can never predict things exactly, so we’ll have to stay tuned.