The ACC-Big Ten Challenge returns for its 10th season starting Monday and running through Wednesday.
And I use the word "challenge" loosely because this hasn't been much of a challenge for the ACC. The conference has beaten the Big Ten each of the first nine years, a point of shame for those of us from the Midwest.
But this is a new year. Can the Big Ten win it? Ummmm, sadly, no. Here's a look at the matchups, with my predicted winners in bold:
Wisconsin at Virginia Tech: An interesting contrast in styles. Virginia Tech likes to run, while Wisconsin is a methodical, fundamentally-sound halfcourt team.
Duke at Purdue: This is the marquee matchup with the Big Ten's best team hosting the second-beat team from the ACC. Coach K has wised up this year, allowing sophomore Nolan Smith to run the point instead of worthless clown Greg Paulus. Smith is a far superior perimeter defender, and Duke is a better team for it.
Clemson at Illinois: A straight homer pick on my part. The Illini are 6-0 and have some nice wins over Vanderbilt, MAC preseason favorite Kent State and Tulsa. Big man Mike Tisdale (left, with coach Bruce Weber) scored 20 points against Kent and 12 against Tulsa over the weekend to earn MVP honors in the South Padre Island Invitational. Clemson (7-0) has played a soft schedule so far.
Ohio State at Miami: Haven't seen either team play so far, but Miami has a roster full of upperclassmen and the homecourt advantage.
Virginia at Minnesota: Ehhh...I'll just pick Minnesota to keep Timberwolf off my case.
Iowa at Boston College: Iowa has played a soft schedule and doesn't have much scoring punch this year. BC senior Tyrese Rice will be the best player on the floor.
North Carolina vs. Michigan State at Ford Field: This should be a great atmosphere that favors Michigan State, but North Carolina is laying waste to everyone in its path. Michigan State did not distinguish itself with an 18-point early-season loss to middling Maryland at the Old Spice Classic.
Indiana at Wake Forest: The Hoosiers were damn lucky not to lose Chaminade at the Maui Invitational. Enough said.
Michigan at Maryland: Two enigmas here. Michigan beat UCLA, but it needed a huge rally and overtime to overcome mighty Savannah State. Homecourt advantage makes the difference in this matchup.
Florida State at Northwestern: The Seminoles came up a nice neutral-court victory over California on Saturday and have too many athletes for Northwestern.
Penn State at Georgia Tech: Just for fun, we'll call a Big Ten upset here. Tech hasn't played anybody yet and was lucky to squeak past Jacksonville. Penn State lost to Rhode Island, but has done a better job of kicking the snot out of inferior competition.
Looks like we've got a 7-4 advantage for the ACC. I hope I'm wrong. Good luck to all Big Ten teams this week.