Random Rumblings & Predicting the Big Ten - ACC Challenge
Hope everyone had a great, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. I was on the Disney death march with the fam (for the tenth time in the last eight years!) but enjoyed a break from dreary, gray Michigan despite miles of walking and lots of waiting.
I didn't get a chance to see a ton of Big Ten action this weekend, but I saw - and read - enough to bring some thoughts to the table.
Big Ten = BCS x Two
With the Oklahoma State loss to Boomer Sooner, I think the Big Ten nailed the lid shut on another season with two in the BCS. Now the question looms - who is the second team? Penn State with its legendary coach and legions of fans? Or Iowa with its cardiac kids season and a fan base itching to bust out and travel in droves to a big bowl game. In these cases it becomes a business decision, which is a shame. In a tie scenario within a conference, the committees should be forced to look at head to head. Iowa smashed Penn State in Happy Valley. But that was in early October. I'd pick Iowa based on that, but have a feeling that the Fiesta Bowl would love to get a Penn State - Boise State match-up and will go that route.
Tough tournament weekend
Michigan State turned the ball over 23 times and lost to a pretty good Florida team in the Legends Classic. MSU hasn't won a holiday tournament outside of Michigan since 1998. I will ask... who cares? While it would be nice to win these things, five Final Fours over the same span is much more attractive to me as a fan...
Michigan and Minnesota both went 1-2 in higher profile tournaments. Not what these upstarts had hoped for.
Illinois lost to Bradley. Ouch.
Wisconsin did win two in Maui, including a nice win over a ranked Maryland team.
And how about Northwestern? Wow! Beat a ranked Notre Dame and a decent Iowa State team. Who says the loss of the two top scorers would kill their season?
Two kicked out in East Lansing
As a fellow coach (albeit for kids much younger) and fan, I feel for Mark Dantonio. He took a big chance with Glenn Winston and a lesser chance with Roderick Jenrette and both burned him. Way to go guys. A coach gives you a new lease on life for your transgressions (Jenrette's were not publicized) and you do this? These actions ruin shots at a second chance for the next guys who screw up in the program.
Tiger Woods vs. Elin Noordgren
I have to say something since I was in Orlando when this went down. Did Elin use a lob wedge or a hybrid in the attack and did she take a full divot? Okay, that was in bad taste. Seriously, people need to let this alone. The two get no privacy, how about we give them some in this case.
Big Ten - ACC Challenge
Penn State at Virginia (11/30) - UVA and Penn State are both 4-2. Neither has played anyone of consequence so far. Taylor Battle and PSU get the Big Ten off to a good start. Penn State 67 - Virginia 64
Northwestern at NC State (12/1) - Northwestern might be the hottest team in college basketball right now. Seriously. Despite the preseason loss of their two best players, the Wildcats are 5-1 and have beaten some good teams. NC State hasn't really beaten anyone great thus far, but is 5-0 with a few SEC wins to its credit. It could go either way, but the edge will go to the ACC in this one. NC State 63 - Northwestern 59
Wake Forest at Purdue (12/1) - Purdue has a loaded team that is really getting after it defensively. Big win for the Big Ten in this one. Purdue 68 - Wake Forest 57
Maryland at Indiana (12/1) - The Terps have lost two straight and are coming back from a trip to Maui. Indiana is better but not great. Maryland evens up this year's challenge. Maryland 73 - Indiana 64
Michigan State at North Carolina (12/1) - A rematch of last year's title game. North Carolina is struggling with turnovers, the very thing that cost Michigan State in its only loss so far. UNC had to scrap and claw to beat Nevada at home. The MSU guards are the edge as is the motivation for payback. MSU gets a second win in the Dean Dome. Michigan State 75 - North Carolina 70
Virginia Tech at Iowa (12/1) - Iowa is just not good. VA Tech is decent and certainly good enough to get this road W. Virginia Tech 72 - Iowa 59
Illinois at Clemson (12/2) - Clemson is better than Illinois - at this point in the season. If the game were being played in Champaign, I'd give a certain edge to the Illini. But the Tigers give the ACC a 4-3 edge with a nice win. Clemson 78 - Illinois 71
Minnesota at Miami-FLA (12/2) - Miami has been very impressive thus far. Minnesota lost two tough ones in Anaheim and now travels all the way back across the country. The Hurricanes start to make it look like yet another Challenge win for the ACC. Miami 81 - Minnesota 72
Boston College at Michigan (12/2) - Michigan got bounced twice in Orlando and is hungry for a win over a quality opponent. Boston College is rebuilding. Michigan 73 - Boston College 61
Duke at Wisconsin (12/2) - The Kohl Center will be rocking for this game. And this game is the one that means either another ACC win of the Challenge trophy or a first for the Big Ten. Duke is an impressive 6-0 but Wisconsin is a solid 4-1 with some good competition under the belt. UW rides the home crowd to a shocking upset over Duke. Wisconsin 66 - Duke 65
Florida State at Ohio State (12/2) - This one seems like it should be a bowl game. Florida State won the Old Spice Classic. Ohio State has one loss and a nice win over then ranked Cal. I like the Buckeyes to win a close one and give the Big Ten a 6-5 record and our first win in this Challenge. Ohio State 76 - Florida State 74