ACC/Big Ten Challenge Odds, Picks & Predictions: Previewing All 14 Matchups
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaden Akins (Michigan State)
Another season, another ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Big Ten looks surprisingly good this year. The conference is a whopping 41-27-2 ATS so far (60.2%), alongside having won 78% of its games this season.
Moreover, the Big Ten enters this challenge on a three-year winning streak.
That said, we aren’t going to lay it with every Big Ten team blindly. There are too many good matchups, and every spread should be efficient.
Read on for a full event preview, with a few matchups to circle for either entertainment or betting value.
Monday, November 28
Minnesota vs. Virginia Tech
I love the Gophers ATS in this spot, as long as they’re catching double-digits.
The return of Jamison Battle is massive for Ben Johnson’s squad. The Gophers have Battle and Dawson Garcia and no depth, so those two’s scoring and health are essential to this squad.
You can’t blame Minnesota for floundering without Battle. So, I think Minnesota is slightly better than the market suggests, as long as its two best players are on the floor.
Also, both teams run at a very slow pace, so it’s going to be very hard for Virginia Tech to cover a big spread.
Pick: Minnesota ATS
Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern
This is a tough spot in an ugly game.
I.e., the Wildcats are not built to blow out opponents.
Pittsburgh is not a good basketball team, but it has a senior-laden backcourt (Nelly Cummings, Greg Elliott) that can hang with Chase Audige and Boo Buie.
Plus, John Hugley IV should have an advantage against Northwestern’s mediocre frontcourt.
Lean: Pittsburgh ATS
Tuesday, November 29
Maryland vs. Louisville
What a hilariously lopsided matchup. This is a duel between two historic programs with two new head coaches and wildly different results.
Kenny Payne’s squad has lost its first six games, including two to sub-200 KenPom teams. El Ellis’ dribble penetration is the only way the Cardinals create points, and they can’t stop a nosebleed.
Meanwhile, Kevin Willard may have fixed Maryland basketball. The Terps are 6-0 with two quality wins, and the new backcourt (Jahmir Young, Don Carey) has immediately produced.
We should be able to catch the falling knife with Louisville eventually, but I’m not betting on a Cardinals game until they show any signs of life.
Penn State vs. Clemson
These are two very similar teams.
I like Micah Shrewsberry and the Nittany Lions’ roster construction more than Brad Brownell and the Tigers’ roster. Clemson is a little too PJ Hall-reliant.
However, Penn State is due for loads of negative shooting regression. At the same time, I’m not eager to back Clemson as a short underdog or potential favorite.
However, this is a must-watch matchup between two up-and-coming teams looking for a signature victory.
Syracuse vs. Illinois
If you want a buy-low spot for Syracuse, this is it. The Orange dropped back-to-back games against St. John’s and Bryant, alongside another loss to Colgate.
Illinois has one loss this season, and it’s to powerhouse Virginia. Meanwhile, Brad Underwood’s new roster is my favorite in the Big Ten.
The victory over UCLA proved that, as Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr. dropped 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
This should be a relatively smooth Illinois win, but I project no value if the spread is as big as KenPom projects it (-9).
Georgia Tech vs. Iowa
I’m low on Iowa, as the Hawkeyes are trending down following a big win over Seton Hall.
The Hawkeyes failed to cover against Clemson and then suffered a 13-point loss to TCU. The metrics look good, but there are still some issues to be ironed out for Fran McCaffery and Co.
I am very intrigued by Georgia Tech here, which should be catching 14 points while owning solid defensive metrics and the ability to limit 3-point attempts (54th in 3PA% allowed).
Coach Josh Pastner is 39-31-1 ATS as an underdog over the last five seasons. Give the Yellow Jackets.
Lean: Georgia Tech ATS
Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin
I’m pretty interested in both teams in their respective conferences this season.
Steve Forbes is following up on last year’s incredible season with a 6-1 start. The roster is going through change, but Tyree Appleby has slid in perfectly in the Wake backcourt, and it has size in the frontcourt with two seven-footers (Matthew Marsh, Davion Bradford).
However, Wisconsin is 5-1 with wins over Stanford, Dayton and USC. The Badgers’ only loss is a one-point overtime loss to the defending national champs.
The inside-out duo of Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl is great, and Greg Gard might be producing another unexpected, yet magical season.
That said, Wisco’s opponents will not shoot 26.4% from 3 for the rest of the season. Regression is on the horizon.
I am fascinated to watch this game, however.
Michigan vs. Virginia
Tony Bennett is back. The Cavaliers are 5-0 with wins over Baylor and Illinois. The Hoos rank top-10 in both minutes continuity and D-I experience, and it is showing on the floor.
Virginia is on the verge of another huge season.
Meanwhile, Michigan looks bad. The Wolverines are just 2-4 ATS and have one horrific loss to Arizona State.
But Michigan is lengthy, with Hunter Dickinson dominating the paint and Jett Howard turning into a legit scorer.
This is a tremendous buy-low spot for Michigan against a Virginia team you rarely want lay points with.
Lean: Michigan ATS
Wednesday, November 30
Ohio State vs. Duke
This is an interesting contrast in styles. Duke generally likes to run, while Ohio State runs a slow, methodical offense that kills defenses with excellent shot-making.
However, it’s surprising that Duke is running at a sub-300 tempo this season and is getting out in transition at a sub-225 rate.
It’s almost like a new head coach is working on integrating an entirely new roster.
Ohio State is young and relatively inexperienced, too. However, the Buckeyes have been cooking, recently beating Cincinnati and Texas Tech in back-to-back games.
This looks like a good spot to bet on the under. The market hasn’t caught up to Duke’s pace yet, as the Blue Devils are 7-1 to the under this season. Meanwhile, Ohio State will acquiesce to Duke’s guards, ranking 318th in defensive turnover rate this season.
Purdue vs. Florida State
Similar to the Maryland-Louisville matchup, this is an incredibly lopsided game.
Purdue recently finished a 19-point thrashing of Duke, while Florida State is 1-6 with four losses to KenPom sub-100 teams.
Matt Painter and Leonard Hamilton are two good coaches, but only one is working with his roster right now.
And like the Maryland-Louisville matchup, I don’t want to touch a Florida State game until the Seminoles show signs of life.
Rutgers vs. Miami (FL)
Rutgers is a good defensive basketball team, but the Scarlet Knights haven’t faced a real test yet.
Miami is that first test. Jim Larranaga’s guard-heavy team will also test Rutgers’ new backcourt combination of Cam Spencer and Derek Simpson.
Not to mention that Miami is already battle tested, with wins over Providence and UCF.
However, I’m also very worried about Miami’s ability to compete with Clifford Omoruyi, considering the Hurricanes run 6-foot-7 at the five, using Norchad Omier a disproportionate amount.
I’ll pass on this game altogether.
North Carolina vs. Indiana
North Carolina has lost back-to-back games. The Tar Heels are clearly overvalued after last season’s electric run to the national title game, and they likely aren’t the nation’s best team.
Normally, I would hammer Indiana in this game. However, there are some injury concerns with the Hoosiers, including Trey Galloway and far more importantly, Trayce Jackson-Davis, who missed a game with a hand injury.
TJD played against Jackson State, so he should be fine. Keep an eye on the injury report and hammer the Hoosiers if everyone is healthy.
Lean: Indiana ATS if Everyone is Healthy
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame looks very efficient on the offensive end – specifically on the interior – with Nate Laszewski and Cormac Ryan.
But the Irish have been crushed on defense and dropped their only big test against St. Bonaventure.
Sparty is battled-tested, still undervalued, will be physical with Laszewski on the interior and has a huge advantage on the perimeter. A.J. Hoggard and Tyson Walker will roll over Trey Wertz and JJ Starling.
Pick: Michigan State ATS
Boston College vs. Nebraska
How is Boston College 5-2? I thought the Eagles were toast after losses to Maine and Tarleton State.
Turns out the Eagles have some life, including a win over Wyoming.
The key for Boston College is its post-defense, which is the only efficient part of the Eagles’ game this season. It was why the Eagles were able to beat Wyoming, the most post-heavy offense in the nation.
Nebraska isn’t good at anything offensively, but the Huskers at least try to attack the paint. Sam Griesel gets out into transition and tries to run the pick-and-roll as much as possible, even if he’s inefficient.
I think Boston College can stop Nebraska, and it will be too enticing not to bet as an underdog.