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Pat Ralph | Excelle Sports | October 19, 2017

Top 10 ACC, Big Ten matchups highlight weekend

  UNC hosts No. 2 Duke Friday night at 6 p.m. in the lone Top 5 matchup of the weekend.

The three best games in college field hockey this weekend all feature top 10 teams. While a pair of ACC showdowns will feature teams ranked in the top 10 in the country, the Big Ten will also showcase a top 10 matchup this weekend too. The ACC is the best conference in college field hockey, but the Big Ten is close on its heels. Here are the three best games we recommend watching and checking out this weekend:

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No. 2 Duke vs. No. 5 North Carolina

Friday October 20th, 6:00 p.m.

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There’s arguably no greater rivalry in college sports than the Tobacco Road rivalry between Duke and North Carolina, two ACC rivals separated by a mere eight miles. And this year’s edition of the rivalry features two of the five best teams in the country this season going head-to-head in a conference showdown. Duke (12-2) enters Friday’s game on a three-game winning streak, including wins last weekend at home over No. 13 Wake Forest 2-1 and unranked Miami (Ohio) 2-0. The Blue Devils are 3-2 in the ACC right now and are currently tied with the Tar Heels (12-3). Before beating unranked VCU on the road 4-1 last Sunday, North Carolina’s eight-game winning streak was snapped at the hands of Louisville 3-2 at home last Friday. While this is Carolina’s lone game this weekend, Duke travels to unranked Liberty on Sunday. Needless to say, this rivalry game is huge for both teams as the field hockey season comes down the stretch and teams jockey for conference tournament positioning.

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 8 Northwestern

Friday October 20th, 4:00 p.m.

As mentioned at the onset, the ACC has been the premier conference in college field hockey this year. But the Big Ten has had an impressive season of its own too, and it offers field hockey fans with a top 10 matchup that will certainly determine seeding in the Big Ten Tournament next month. Right now, the class of the conference is the Maize and Blue of Michigan. The Wolverines (13-2) enter Friday’s game on a 10-game winning streak and 7-0 in the Big Ten, establishing themselves as the heavy favorite to win the conference. Last weekend, the Wolverines continued their strong play on the road with a 2-0 win over unranked Indiana on Friday and a 3-2 win over No. 22 Iowa on Sunday. But it won’t be an easy match when they go up against the Wildcats (12-4) at home on Friday. Northwestern stands at 5-1 in the Big Ten and enters Friday’s game on a six-game winning streak, including a pair of overtime wins against No. 22 Iowa on the road (5-4) and No. 23 UMass at home (2-1). As a result, the Wildcats moved up from No. 9 in the polls. After facing the Wolverines, Northwestern closes out its regular season on Sunday at home against Michigan State. Michigan will travel on Sunday to Louisville for a huge late season non-conference game against the Cardinals. Along with No. 6 Penn State, both Michigan and Northwestern are two of the best in the Big Ten.

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No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 7 Louisville

Saturday October 21st, 12:00 p.m.

The second top 10 ACC matchup of the weekend takes field hockey fans to Louisville where the Cavaliers and Cardinals will face off in a huge conference showdown. Virginia (12-3) and Louisville (11-4) enter Saturday’s clash tied at the top of the ACC at 4-1, with each team having three games left on their regular season schedule before the conference tournament kicks off. Last weekend, the Cavaliers picked up a big 2-1 road win over No. 10 Syracuse before falling to former ACC rival and No. 12 Maryland in a non-conference matchup. The Cardinals jumped up from No. 11 in the polls after a huge 3-2 road win over UNC last weekend. On Sunday, Virginia will travel to face unranked Miami (Ohio) while Louisville will host Michigan in a big non-conference matchup. With it being both teams’ last conference game of the year, the winning team on Saturday will all but likely capture the ACC regular season title and claim the top seed in the ACC Tournament. This game should be great.

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