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Mike Lopresti | | December 1, 2021

Everything you need to know about all 14 ACC/Big Ten Challenge games

Ohio State upsets No. 1 Duke behind EJ Liddell's double-double

Together again, the ACC and Big Ten. Been kind of an uneven November, hasn’t it guys? The news has been good, except when it’s been bad. Several odd results have been reported from these conference precincts — even UMBC got back in the ACC-beating business — suggesting a good many teams are works in progress.

So here comes the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and in 2021 it is not so much about league supremacy as it is searching for answers. This we do know: Duke is the new No. 1 in the latest Associated Press rankings and Purdue No. 2. Not much to separate them in votes at the moment, but there is a gap in poll pedigree. Duke has now been in the No. 1 spot 145 weeks in its history. Purdue has never been there.

Wouldn’t it be tasty if they were playing one another this week? Alas, not to be. But these are . . .


Iowa at Virginia. This will do as a first round, with its yin-and-yang flavor. The Hawkeyes lead the nation in scoring, the Cavaliers are fourth in scoring defense. The Iowa offense is quite the novelty act. How many other teams out there are led in scoring by identical twins? Keegan Murray paces the Hawkeyes — and the nation for those who have played enough games to qualify — with a 25.7 average, and brother Kris is next on the team at 12.8. It’s the second consecutive year an Iowa player has been hanging around the top of the nation’s scoring list; Luka Garza was a steady presence in 2020-21. Virginia began the season by losing to Navy, one of those screwball scores these two leagues have been producing. But the Cavaliers have resumed normal operations, meaning they’ve won four in a row by allowing only 47.5 points a game.

RESULT: Iowa 75, Virginia 74

DUKE IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: Click here for Andy Katz's latest Power 36 rankings

Notre Dame at Illinois. You want screwball? Notre Dame lost a game with 16 lead changes against Saint Mary’s, the first time the Gaels had ever beaten a sitting ACC member. Then the Irish took a bizarre 73-67 loss against Texas A&M, when their starting lineup outscored the Aggie starters 54-13. The Texas A&M bench put up 60 points. Illinois, once No. 10 in the polls, is trying to recover from losing to two unranked teams — Marquette and Cincinnati — in eight days. The Cincinnati game was a 20-point whipping. But the return of Kofi Cockburn — who just scored 38 points against UT Rio Grande Valley — should accelerate the process. The 4-2 Illini have used five different starting lineups in six games.

RESULT: Illinois 82, Notre Dame 


Minnesota at Pittsburgh. The leading scorer for Minnesota last season, Marcus Carr, is starting for No. 7 Texas. The second leading scorer, Liam Robbins, is rehabbing a foot injury at Vanderbilt. The third, Gabe Kalscheur, just led Iowa State’s upset of Memphis with 30 points. The fourth, Brandon Johnson, is a key starter for DePaul. The fifth, Jamal Mashburn Jr., is averaging 20.6 points a game for New Mexico. In other words, the top six scorers from last year’s Gophers team are averaging 62.9 points a game — for six other schools. And still, Minnesota will take a 5-0 record to Pitt. The 2-4 Panthers have had some trying moments. They lost to The Citadel, and later UMBC. Ah yes, the Retrievers. The last time they beat an ACC team might ring a bell — as a 16-seed in the 2018 NCAA tournament over No. 1 seed Virginia in the first round.

RESULT: Minnesota 54, Pitt 53

Syracuse takes on Indiana this week.

Indiana at Syracuse. Clearly, the 3-3 Orange are still trying to get up to speed on Jim Boeheim’s zone defense. They gave up 100 points to Colgate. Indiana is 6-0 under new coach Mike Woodson. The last Hoosiers coach to win his first six games on the job was Branch McCracken, and that was 1938. But this will be the first time this season they have left their own zip code. Indiana beat Marshall over the weekend 90-79 — never mind the Thundering herd’s 17-0 run in the first half — with 43 points from Trayce Jackson-Davis. That was the most points scored by a Hoosier since 1979, when 48 came from . . . Mike Woodson.

RESULT: Syracuse 112, Indiana 110 2OT

Clemson at Rutgers. When these two were last seen together, Rutgers was beating Clemson 60-56 in March for its first NCAA tournament victory in 38 years. Now they can share tales of tough losses in the early season. Clemson was up 16 points on St. Bonaventure and 10 on West Virginia and lost both. Rutgers has dropped three consecutive games by a combined seven points, including at home against 0-4 Lafayette. And the Scarlet Knights might be without a key player in injured Geo Baker.

RESULT: Rutgers 74, Clemson 64

Florida State at Purdue. The Boilermakers are second in the nation in scoring, third in shooting and rebound margin and fifth from the 3-point line. In other words, they’re a handful, and large in Duke’s rearview mirror in the rankings. But they better get the job done Tuesday in 40 minutes. Though Florida State needed a put-back basket in the final seconds to get past Boston University 81-80 in overtime, it continued one of the more remarkable streaks in college basketball. The Seminoles have won 12 consecutive overtime games going back to 2018.

RESULT: No. 2 Purdue 93, Florida State 65 

NEW TEAMS AT THE TOP: Here's the latest AP Poll

Northwestern at Wake Forest. Since when did Wake become an athletic juggernaut? The Demon Deacons are 10-2 in football, 6-1 in men’s basketball and 7-0 in women’s basketball. Northwestern leads the nation in assist-turnover ratio, 20.2-8.7. This will be only the second time they’ve ever met.

RESULT: Wake Forest 77, Northwestern 73

Duke at Ohio State. It’s Mike Krzyzewski’s last chance to add to a truly astounding record. He has been the Prince of Darkness for the Big Ten, going 19-3 in the Challenge. But he’s never won in Columbus, losing in his only previous trip. By the way, Monday’s poll meant Duke has now been No. 1 at some point in 24 of the past 37 seasons. Yet another extraordinary number to put on the Coach K pile. Ohio State has been the drama king of its conference, escaping Akron on a layup at the buzzer, edging Seton Hall on a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left, then losing to Florida on a 3-pointer in the last second. E.J. Liddell has led or shared the scoring lead for the 4-2 Buckeyes in all six games.

RESULT: Ohio State 71, No. 1 Duke 66 


Louisville at No. 22 Michigan State. The Cardinals have come a long way from losing at home to Furman. Note the wins over Maryland and Mississippi State in the Bahamas. They rolled over Maryland with 51-25 domination in rebounding — their largest margin against a current power-5 team in nearly 36 years. This is the same team that had only two second chance points against Furman. But they’ve never won a game in East Lansing. Tom Izzo has Michigan State on the move, as usual, but the Spartans are apparently not quite yet ready for the heavy timber, losing by 13 to Kansas and 17 to Baylor. This event has not been so grand for the Big Ten standard bearer. The Spartans are 8-12.

RESULT: No. 22 Michigan State 73, Louisville 64

Nebraska at North Carolina State. It’s always interesting to see how a first date goes. These two schools have never played.

RESULT: NC State 104, Nebraska 100

Virginia Tech at Maryland. Maryland will have to work to score. Virginia Tech is second in the nation in points allowed at 52.7. The Terps’ resume includes a home loss to George Mason. They last met as fellow ACC members, and when Maryland was beating the Hokies six games in a row.

RESULT: Virginia Tech 62, Maryland 58

Maryland will have to work to score this week.

Miami at Penn State. It’s been a while. These two programs haven’t played in nearly 27 years, and the Hurricanes are 0-4 all-time against the Nittany Lions. One more win pulls Miami coach Jim Larranaga even with Denny Crum at No. 34 on the all-time victory list. Only two Big Ten schools have a winning record in the Challenge. Purdue is one. Penn State is the other, at 11-9.

RESULT: Miami 63, Penn State 58

No. 24 Michigan at North Carolina. Two glittering names have had to do some early season tinkering. The Tar Heels have been working on their defense after giving up 89 points to Tennessee one day and 93 to Purdue the next. Four consecutive opponents broke 80 against North Carolina for the first time in 18 years. Michigan was rolling along at No. 4 until Seton Hall showed up in Ann Arbor and shocked the Wolverines. Later was an 18-point beating by Arizona. This will be a progress check for both.

RESULT: North Carolina 72, No. 24 Michigan 51

WATCH: Dayton upsets No. 4 Kansas with crazy buzzer beater

No. 23 Wisconsin at Georgia Tech. In their first meeting in two decades, each team has a player hard to miss. Georgia Tech’s Michael Devoe is the nation’s fifth leading scorer and in his last two games has put up 37 and 26 points against Georgia and Georgia Southern. Johnny Davis came off the bench for Wisconsin last season but is now the main Badger and carried his team to the Maui title with 21, 30 and 20 points in victories over Texas A&M, Houston and Saint Mary’s.

RESULT: No. 23 Wisconsin 70, Georgia Tech 66

By late Wednesday night, we’ll have a tally. The ACC is 12-7 in the Challenge with three years being tied. But the Big Ten has won the last two years, and that league could use a good week. It’s just barely past a 2-6 showing against the Big East in the Gavitt Games. Probably doesn’t mean a thing, but it didn’t look good.

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