Top Five ACC/Big Ten Challenge Match Ups

The full set of match ups for the 19th ACC/Big Ten Challenge are listed in the above tweet from the ACC. Frankly, the match ups aren’t all that great this time around. There are still a number of interesting games on the docket, just not as many as we’re used to. Here are the top five games as we see them.

1. Notre Dame @ Michigan State

Bonzie Colson may be the best post player in the ACC and is among the best in the country. Last season he averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Irish (26-10). Matt Farrell returns as well with his 14.1 points and team-high 5.4 assists per contest. 4-star forward D.J. Harvey also joins the mix in the front court. This game will mark Notre Dame’s first trip to East Lansing since 1974. It’s the first meeting between the programs since a 79-78 overtime win for the Irish in 2014.

Michigan State is expected to be the best team in the Big Ten next year and a top-five team nationally in preseason rankings. Standout freshman Miles Bridges leads the way after posting 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds in his first season. Fellow sophomores Nick Ward (13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds), Joshua Langford (6.9 points, 2.3 rebounds), and Cassius Winston (6.7 points, 5.2 assists) all return as well. This is hands down the most interesting game of the challenge and a true rivalry to boot.

2. Miami @ Minnesota

Expectations will be very high in both Coral Gables and Minneapolis next season. The Hurricanes return just about everyone from a team that finished 21-12 last season. Ja’Quan Newton will lead the way after posting 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game last year. Bruce Brown (11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists) will highlight a deep sophomore class and he’ll be joined by an outstanding recruiting class. The standout there is 5-star guard Lonnie Walker who should hit the ground running.

Richard Pitino enters his fifth season at Minnesota coming off his most successful campaign. The Gophers finished 24-10 last season and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012-13. Minnesota loses just one major contributor off of last season’s squad which means four double-digit scorers will return. Guard Nate Mason (15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds) is the star to watch. This game is a must watch if you enjoyed talented guard play.

3. Louisville @ Purdue

This is a rematch from last year’s 71-64 Cardinal victory. Even so, The Boilermakers are fresh off a Sweet Sixteen appearance and will provide a major challenge at home. Purdue lost its best player in Caleb Swanigan who left early for the NBA, but they return six of the team’s top seven scorers. Center Isaac Haas (12.6 points, 5 rebounds) and forward Vincent Edwards (12.6 points, 4.9 assists) will lead the way. Purdue is 53-17 over the last two seasons and coach Matt Painter is just 10 wins shy of 300 for his career.

Louisville also lost a top talent to the NBA Draft in Donovan Mitchell. The Cardinals won’t lack for star power however. Deng Adel returns coming off a strong sophomore season in which he averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Fellow double-figure scorer Quentin Snider is back as well with his average performance of 12.4 points and 4.1 assists. The Cardinals reloaded on the recruiting trail as well. 5-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American Brian Bowen will make an immediate impact on the wing for Rick Pitino who has described next year’s team as, “loaded” and compared them to his 1996 national championship team at Kentucky.

4. Michigan @ North Carolina

The defending national champion Tar Heels lost more talent off of last year’s squad than most teams have in total. Major talents Nate Britt, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks all graduated. Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley left early for the NBA. The good news is that guards Joel Berry and Theo Pinson both return for their senior seasons. They also add Pittsburgh graduate transfer Cameron Johnson who will be immediately eligible. The recruiting class is strong as well with 5-star guard Jalek Felton and 4-star forward Garrison Brooks leading the way. Roy Williams will have a tougher climb next season, but the cupboard is hardly bare.

The Wolverines lost leading scorers Derrick Walton (15.5 points, 4.9 assists) and Zak Irvin (13 points, 4.5 rebounds) from last year’s team. That group finished 26-12 and advanced to the Midwest Regional Semifinal where they lost to Oregon 69-68. This group likely won’t advance that far, but talent returns in rising junior Moritz Wagner (12.1 points, 4.2 rebounds) and rising senior D.J. Wilson (11 points, 5 rebounds). Graduate transfer Jaaron Simmons will have a chance to earn the starting job at point guard. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.5 assists per game last season at Ohio where he earned All-MAC first team honors.

5. Duke @ Indiana

Duke lost a ton of talent from last year’s team, but as usual, they replace it with one of the nation’s best recruiting classes. rates Duke’s 2017 class No. 2 overall. Point Guard Trevon Duval is an excellent ball-handler and will run the offense. Center Wendell Carter and shooting guard Gary Trent are other top-20 recruits who will have a major impact. Controversial talent Grayson Allen returns for his final season in Durham. That should be a good thing, particularly if he can behave on the court.

The Hoosiers are under new leadership with 38-year-old Archie Miller now in charge. Miller posted a 139-63 record at Dayton and qualified for four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The highlight of his tenure came in 2013-14 when he led the Flyers on a run to the Elite 8. Indiana returns its top three leading scorers from last season’s 18-16 squad. Former Pittsburgh guard Josh Newkirk will also be an important contributor. The Hoosiers landed a strong recruiting class led by a pair of 4-star forwards in Clifton Moore and Justin Smith. This is likely a rebuilding year for Indiana, but improved coaching and a hostile home crowd should make this a decent test for Duke.

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