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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | December 10, 2020

2020 ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Complete schedule, TV info and previews

North Carolina, Texas rise in Andy Katz's Power 36 rankings

One of the staples of college basketball's non-conference slate of games is the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, where two of the strongest men's basketball conferences square off for bragging rights.

Here's a look at the 2020 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, including dates, times and broadcast information. The following stats and records are current through the games played Dec. 2. Advanced stats courtesy of kenpom.com.

After Wednesday's action, the Big Ten solidified their lead over the ACC 6-5.

Tuesday's results:

Wednesday, Dec. 9

The second half of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge takes place on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Here's a look at the games.

Ken Ruinard | USA Today Sports Images Clemson Tigers.

Maryland at Clemson, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Through Dec. 2, Maryland is leading the country in effective field goal percentage at 65.1 percent. That's because the Terrapins are shooting 64.7 percent from inside the arc and 83 percent at the free-throw line, plus 43.9 percent from deep through their first three games. Despite playing at one of the 50 slowest tempos nationally, Maryland has still scored 85, 82 and 79 points in wins over Old Dominion and Mount St. Mary's, respectively.

Clemson is also 3-0 and two of its wins have come against Mississippi State (No. 84 on kenpom.com through Dec. 2) and Purdue (No. 25), so the Tigers have proven their merit so far. Their defense has led the way as they've forced a turnover on 31.4 percent of their opponents' possessions and they've held opponents to 37.4 percent 2-point shooting. It doesn't hurt that opponents have only made 50 percent of their free throws against Clemson, too.

A matchup between a top-10 defense and a top-25 offense should be a good one in Clemson.

Brett Davis | USA TODAY Sports Images Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech at Nebraska, 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Georgia Tech is looking for its first win through the first eight days of the season after falling to Georgia State at home in four overtimes, then again to Mercer. The Yellow Jackets rank 18th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (39.8 percent) and 43rd in free-throw rate (44.0 percent), so they've flashed an ability to get second-chance opportunities and to score easily from the free-throw line, but there's not much they're great at beyond those two statistical categories.

Senior forward Moses Wright leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 25.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

Meanwhile, Nebraska appears poised to take a least a small step forward, if not a bigger one, in Year Two of the Fred Hoiberg era. The Huskers are ranked No. 108 on kenpom.com through Dec. 2 following a 3-1 start. They finished last season ranked No. 162. Nebraska is playing as fast as almost any  team in the country on offense with an average possession length of just 13.9 seconds. The Huskers rank in the top 35 nationally in both offensive and defensive turnover percentage, so on the whole, they've shown they can take better care of the ball than their opponents.

Nebraska is making 52.9 percent of its 2-point attempts and it has posted a free-throw rate of 42.4 percent, which could be a small band-aid for the team's 28.9-percent 3-point shooting. Teddy Allen leads the team in scoring through four games at 19 points per game.

Trevor Ruszkowski | USA TODAY Sports Images Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Indiana at No. 20 Florida State, 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2

These two programs met in Bloomington last season as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge — when Indiana won 80-64 — and now they'll square off in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have only played one game this season: an 86-58 win over North Florida in which Florida State blocked 26 percent of North Florida's 2-point attempts, forced a turnover of 33.2 percent of the Ospreys' offensive possessions and the Seminoles grabbed 47 percent of their missed shots. Senior guard MJ Walker led the team with 17 points on 4-for-8 shooting, while talented freshman Scottie Barnes had eight points, six rebounds and six assists.

The Hoosiers are coming off of a third-place finish in the Maui Invitational, where they beat Providence and Stanford handily, but lost to eventual tournament champion Texas in what was Indiana's worst offensive showing in at least a decade. On the whole, it was a productive week for the Hoosiers, given how their tournament started and ended.

Through Dec. 2, Indiana's defense ranks 13th nationally in terms of efficiency and sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis's 31-point outburst against Stanford shows that he can be capable of carrying an offense that currently ranks No. 36. The Hoosiers' pack-line defense has limited 3-point efficiency for their opponents (23.0-percent shooting from deep) and Indiana is blocking more than 15 percent of its opponents' 2-point attempts.

Charles LeClaire | USA TODAY Sports Images Pittsburgh Panthers.

Pitt at Northwestern, 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Pitt dropped its season opener at home to St. Francis (PA) but the Panthers bounced back with a win over a Drexel squad that's ranked roughly 80 spots higher than St. Francis on kenpom.com. A lot of the Panthers' advanced stats are boom or bust. They're 11th in 2-point percentage (62.7 percent) and 21st nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (38.8 percent), but they're also 226th in both offensive turnover percentage and defensive rebounding percentage, through Dec. 2. Juniors Xavier Johnson and Au'Diese Toney are the team's most efficient, high-usage scoring options so far.

Northwestern has only played one game through the first week and change of the 2020-21 season. That one game was a 92-49 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff, which is why the Wildcats rank third nationally in effective field-goal percentage and first in effective defensive field-goal percentage. Five Northwestern players scored in double figures in the win, led by Miller Kopp's 18 points.

Raj Mehta | USA TODAY Sports Images Michigan State's Aaron Henry.

No. 4 Michigan State at No. 18 Virginia, 9:!5 p.m. ET, ESPN

This game has been postponed.

The marquee Wednesday night game of this season's ACC/Big Ten Challenge is between two teams that are ranked in the top 15 in Week 2's AP poll. Michigan State put together a really impressive road win at Duke in the Champions Classic to improve to 3-0, while Virginia bounced back from its one-point loss to San Francisco with a 25-point win over St. Francis (PA). The Cavaliers' defense is already ranked No. 1 nationally and Virginia's offense is taking care of the ball (12.4-percent turnover rate) and making shots at an above-average rate (57.8 percent from two, 36.5 percent from three).

Marquette transfer Sam Hauser has fit in nicely as he's leading the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game, while another transfer, former Rice player Trey Murphy, is second in scoring at 11.7 points per game.

This will be a family affair in Charlottesville because Hauser's younger brother and former Marquette teammate Joey is the Spartans' leading scorer at 12.0 points per game. He leads a balanced attack in which four players average at least nine points per game, while four others average between five and eight points.

Rick Osentoski | USA TODAY Sports Images Michigan Wolverines.

NC State at Michigan — POSTPONED

This game has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns within the NC State program.

The Wolverines had a scare in their second game of the season, when Oakland took them to overtime before Michigan prevailed, but the Wolverines are 3-0 with a top-10 offense in the country. While they've been below average at 3-point shooting (31.9 percent — 0.7 percentage points below the national average), their 2-point efficiency is lethal at 64.6 percent. Plus they've only had 1.8 percent of their 2-point shots blocked, which is a minuscule number.

Senior forward Isaiah Livers has been a standout performer so far, leading the team in scoring at 20.0 points per game, plus five rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Freshman center Hunter Dickinson, who stands 7-1, has been an immediate-impact player (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Wake Forest transfer Chaundee Brown is the team's third-leading scorer at 11 points per game. The Wolverines have a productive combination of returning contributors and new difference-makers.

The Wolverines will have to take care of the ball against NC State, which is No. 1 in the country in defensive turnover percentage through Dec. 2. The Wolfpack have forced a turnover on 36 percent of their opponents' possessions, which has often led to easy baskets. NC State is eighth nationally in effective field-goal percentage (61.3%) and 13th in 3-point percentage (46.3%). Senior Devon Daniels is leading the way at 18.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

Mary Langenfeld | USA TODAY Sports Images Wisconsin's Nate Reuvers.

No. 25 Louisville at No. 13 Wisconsin — POSTPONED

This game has been postponed. Wisconsin will now host Rhode Island Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.

Wisconsin shared the Big Ten regular-season championship last season and the Badgers are on pace to be even better this season. Their defensive efficiency ranks No. 4 nationally and their offense is No. 19, so don't let their 345th-ranked tempo fool you, this is a very efficient offense. Wisconsin has excelled at taking care of the ball  (11.6-percent turnover rate ranks seventh nationally) and it has made 41.9 percent of its threes so far.

Defensively, the Badgers have made life difficult for opponents inside by allowing just 33.3-percent shooting inside the arc. Wisconsin's frontcourt has led the way so far with Nate Reuvers (15.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Micah Potter (14.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) carrying a heavy load of the scoring and rebounding.

While Louisville may not reach No. 1 in the AP poll like it did last season, the Cardinals are already 4-0 with wins over Seton Hall and Western Kentucky, both of whom are ranked in the top 75 of kenpom.com through Dec. 2. They're steady on both ends of the floor: No. 22 on offense and No. 28 defensively. Radford transfer Carlik Jones has proven to be a great addition to the Cardinals. He leads the team in scoring (17.3 points per game), usage rate (26.0 percent), assist rate (28.1 percent) and 3-point shooting (six 3-pointers on a 60-percent shooting).

Here's how we previewed Tuesday's games:

Tuesday, Dec. 8

The first seven games of the challenge are scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 8, and the games include seven teams ranked in the Nov. 30 AP Top 25 poll. 

Harrison Barden | USA TODAY Sports Minnesota Gophers.

Boston College at Minnesota, 7 P.M. ET, ESPNU

Boston College was nearly responsible for one of the biggest upsets of this young season when the Eagles faced then-No. 3 Villanova in their season opener. They led 57-48 with about 13 minutes to play, but the Wildcats went on an 11-1 run that turned the tide and Villanova ultimately won by nine.

Through Dec. 2, Boston College ranks 30th nationally in 2-point percentage, thanks to the 7-for-7 shooting inside the arc from CJ Felder and the efficiency of guards Makai Ashton-Langford (9-for-13) and Rich Kelly (6-for-9). Generally speaking, the Eagles like to push the pace and they're a veteran group, with nearly two years of experience per player, on average.

Through three games, sophomore Wynston Tabbs leads the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game, along with five rebounds per contest.

Minnesota is off to a 3-0 start after back-to-back wins over Loyola Marymount — the second of which was won on a game-winning 3-pointer from Marcus Carr. Carr, Minnesota's versatile junior guard, is ranked fifth in kenpom.com's national player of the year standings through Dec. 2. Carr is averaging 29.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game through three games after scoring 35, 28 and 26 points in the Gophers' first three games.

He has scored efficiently, too, with 45-percent 3-point shooting, eight free-throw attempts per game and 75-percent shooting from the stripe. The Gophers are playing even faster than the Eagles this season (38th in tempo) and through Dec. 2, they're in the top 35 nationally in both offensive and defensive turnover percentage, so the early returns suggest that pace is sustainable without too many unforced errors or porous defense.

Trevor Ruszkowski | USA TODAY Sports Images Purdue's Zach Edey.

Purdue at Miami (FL), 5 p.m. ET, ESPN2

The latest 7-footer on Purdue's seemingly never-ending pipeline of skilled bigs is 7-4 freshman Zach Edey who, in related news, has made 82.6 percent of his shots this season. That's a good thing for the Boilermakers, too, because junior Trevion Williams, who appeared to be poised for a breakout season, is shooting just 36.7 percent from the field through three games.

Purdue has surrounded its center platoon with shooters: Sasha Stefanovic (11-for-18 from three), Brandon Newman (8-for-17), Isaiah Thompson (6-for-12), and Aaron Wheeler and Mason Gillis (three 3-pointers apiece through three games).

A 49.3 3-point percentage and a 39.2-percent offensive rebounding rate, which Purdue has through three games, might be unsustainable over the course of an entire season, but for as long as it is, the Boilermakers' offense will be lethal.

Miami has played just one game through the first week-plus of the season and it was a 77-59 win over North Florida. In that very limited sample size and through Dec. 2, the Hurricanes are first nationally in defensive free-throw rate (which measures how often your opponent gets to the free-throw line), third in block percentage and fourth in defensive 2-point percentage.

Five players scored in double figures for Miami, led by sophomore Isaiah Wong's 20 points, while Chris Lykes, Harlond Beverly, Kameron McGusty and Matt Cross each scored 10 or 11 points. The 18 turnovers the 'Canes forced were encouraging, but the 16 they committed ... not so much.

RANKINGS: Andy Katz's first Power 36 rankings for the regular season

Joseph Maiorana | USA TODAY Sports Images Ohio State Buckeyes.

No. 22 Ohio State at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Ohio State is ranked behind Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State in the Week 2 AP poll, but the Buckeyes's first eight days of competition have shown that they'll have a say in the Big Ten's pecking order this winter. They're 3-0 with three double-digit wins, as well as an offense and a defense that are ranked in the top 20 nationally in terms of efficiency, through Dec. 2.

Ohio State's 2-point defense is elite so far, holding opponents to 30.9 percent shooting inside the arc, which ranks second nationally. Cal transfer Justice Sueing is leading the team at 15.0 points per game, just ahead of returning Buckeyes Duane Washington (14.7 ppg) and E.J. Liiddell (14.3 ppg).

While the Buckeyes' shooting has room to improve (110th in 2-point percentage, 131st in 3-point percentage), they have maximized their possessions in other ways, through a 12.6-percent turnover rate (12th nationally) and a 37.3-percent offensive rebounding percentage (28th nationally).

Notre Dame will have only played one game prior to hosting Ohio State. The Fighting Irish lost their season opener on the road against Michigan State in an 80-70 defeat. While the Irish made eight 3-pointers and hit them at a 38-percent clip, and only committed 10 turnovers, they scored a below-average 0.92 points per possession and struggled on the glass.

Junior Prentiss Hubb scored a team-high 23 points, although he was just 7-for-22 from the field.

Joseph Cress | USA TODAY Sports Images Iowa's Luka Garza.

No. 16 North Carolina at No. 3 Iowa, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Hang on to your seats, because this could be the fastest-paced and highest-scoring affair in this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Through Dec. 2, Iowa ranks third nationally in offensive efficiency and North Carolina is 25th. The Hawkeyes's pace on offense ranks 15th, too.

Led by National Player of the Year candidate Luka Garza, who has scored 67 points through two games, and he sits at No. 2 on kenpom.com's national player of the year standings as of Thursday morning. He has made 88 percent of his twos, 75 percent of his threes and 87.5 percent of his free throws. Not bad.

Almost every aspect of Iowa's offense ranks among the best nationally, through Dec. 2.

Effective field goal percentage? 13th.

Turnover percentage? 15th.

Offensive rebounding percentage? Ninth.

Free-throw rate? 29th.

North Carolina will likely pose a much tougher test than NC Central and Southern. The Tar Heels lost to Texas in the championship game of the Maui Invitational on Texas guard Matt Coleman's buzzer-beater, which went through the iron with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.

Freshman RJ Davis is leading the team in scoring at 12.3 points per game, but this is a balanced scoring attack, with four players who are averaging at least 11 points per game through four games. Senior forward Garrison Brooks (12.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg) is one of the best returning players in the ACC and he's one of five Tar Heels who have a block rate (percent of 2-point shots blocked) that's at least four percent.

Roy Williams' best teams at North Carolina have traditionally been more efficient on offense than defense (although, they've been very good on defense, too), this year's Tar Heels rank 14th nationally in defensive efficiency through Dec. 2, compared to 25th on offense. Their defense will be put to the test against Garza and Iowa's shooters.

MORE: Takeaways from the Champions Classic | Full scoreboard 

David Butler II | USA Today Sports Images Virginia Tech's Cartier Diarra.

Penn State at No. 15 Virginia Tech, 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Like one of its Big Ten brethren (Minnesota), Penn State has recently won a game on a buzzer-beater. Myles Dread's 3-pointer gave the Nittany Lions a 72-69 win over VCU on Wednesday, which should age well. Through two games, Penn State is simply solid — No. 57 in offensive efficiency and No. 64 defensively, good for No. 61 overall on kenpom.com through Dec. 2.

The strength of the Nittany Lions has been their ability to force turnovers, with an 18.4-percent steal rate (third nationally) and a 27.9-percent defensive turnover percentage (12th). Sophomore forward Seth Lundy has carried the scoring load so far, averaging a team-best 22 points per game, while three other players are averaging double figures through two games.

Virginia Tech's stock has risen as much as almost any team nationally through the first week-plus of the season thanks to the Hokies's win over Villanova in overtime. Virginia Tech is 3-0, with a win over a solid South Florida squad to its name, too. The Hokies rank No. 18 in the country in offensive efficiency through Dec. 2 and No. 29 defensively. Kansas State transfer Cartier Diarra has been running the point for Mike Young's squad, while Nahiem Alleyne (7-for-13 frmo three), Keve Aluma (6-for-9) and Hunter Cattoor (6-for-11) have provided outside shooting around him.

Trevor Ruszkowski | USA TODAY Sports Images Illinois's Da'Monte Williams.

No. 6 Illinois at No. 10 Duke, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

One of Tuesday night's nightcaps could be a top-10 matchup, depending on where Illinois and Duke appear in the Week 3 AP poll after losses to No. 2 Baylor and No. 6 Michigan State, respectively. There wasn't shame in either loss. Baylor was a top-five team last season, returned the core of its roster and Illinois kept the game within a possession or two for the first 30 minutes or so. And Duke is the least experienced team in the ACC and still getting its footing.

The Blue Devils' offensive and defensive efficiency both rank No. 9 in the country through Dec. 2, but Duke needs to improve its 3-point shooting (28 percent through two games) and shore up its turnovers (187th in offensive turnover percentage, 228th in defensive turnover percentage).

Once again, Duke is among the most talented teams in the country, thanks to the return of Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore, plus the addition of freshman Jalen Johnson, who had 19 points and 19 boards in his college debut, then a come-down-to-Earth 11 points and four rebounds against Michigan State.

Ball-handling and outside shooting are obviously important, and Duke will need to show improvement in those areas sooner than later. While Illinois has faced its own turnover issues (163rd in offensive turnover percentage, 241st in defensive turnover percentage), the Illini can sure shoot from deep. Illinois has made 45.1 percent of its threes so far, thanks to the quartet of Trent Frazier (9-for-19), Ayo Dosunmu (8-for-17), Adam Miller (8-for-23) and Da'Monte Williams (7-for-11).

The Illini are ferocious on the offensive glass, too, with a 47.2-percent offensive rebounding rate, which means they grab nearly half of their missed shots. Illinois has shown a lot of lineup flexibility and versatility, with Dosunmu's ability to play on the ball or off, and a frontcourt that can be dangerous with either Kofi Cockburn or Giorgi Bezhanishvili — or both.

Wendell Cruz | USA TODAY Sports Images Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Syracuse at No. 21 Rutgers, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Rutgers has followed up its 20-11 campaign last season with a 3-0 start to the 2020-21 season, with all three wins coming by at least 14 points. Once again, the Scarlet Knights' defense has been stout. They rank No. 12 nationally in defensive efficiency. On that end of the floor, they've held their opponents to 40.3 percent shooting inside the arc, while blocking 16.1 percent of their opponents' 2-point shots and stealing the ball on 13.3 percent of their opponents' possessions.

Junior Ron Harper is leading the team with 21.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while talented freshman center Clifford Omoruyi is chipping in 8.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per night. Rutgers has done all this while getting just 9 minutes out of senior guard Geo Baker, who's dealing with an ankle injury.

Syracuse has played just one game through the first eight days of the season and it was an 85-84 nail-biting win over Bryant. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's son Buddy led the team with 23 points, while Marek Dolezaj added 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds. The Orange made 10 3-pointers but they shot just 28.6 percent from deep.

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