Friday, December 2, 2016
The ACC/BigTen Challenge as a Bracket Barometer
With so many viable bracket and bubble contender, the ACC/BigTen Challenge provides a slightly closed system with fair matchups to see how these strengths stack up. While anyone can have an off night on the floor, 14 contests are a decent sample size to at least feel how these teams stack up. Feel free to reference back to the charts. Bracket. BCS. First outs.
Purdue (projected 3) at Louisville (2); Result: Louisville wins 71-64, confirmed. Louisville jumped out early, never looked back.
Rutgers (OUT) at Miami (5); Result: Miami wins 73-61, confirmed. Rutgers was undefeated head to south Florida, but this game stayed closer longer that I had anticipated.
Nebraska (BUBBLE POOL) at Clemson (BUBBLE POOL); Result: Clemson wins 60-58, confirmed? Both these teams have a lot to prove to get back into the discussion, so it makes sense this was a battle to the end. Clemson steals a potential Top 50 win.
Virginia Tech (10) at Michigan (11); Result: Tech wins 73-70, confirmed. I really didn’t think the Hokies could pull this one out on the road, especially against Michigan’s tight defense. Win will be big in March.
North Carolina (3) at Indiana (2); Result: Indiana wins 76-63, confirmed. Wow, Indiana did not f-around after that loss at Fort Wayne. A road loss doesn’t mean too much for UNC, but a big bounce back win for the Hoosiers keeps them on the 2 line for while.
Ohio State (SECOND FIVE) at Virginia (1); Result: Virginia wins 63-61, disputed? The Cavs played like a bag of wet hair, taking poor shots all game, and still pulled this out. The Buckeyes booted so many chances to put the dagger in. Either way, I think one of these teams is probably no quite rated correctly… whether UVA gets bumped to a two (not elite) or Ohio State turns the screws on Michigan, MSU, Maryland, and Iowa.
Pittsburgh (FIRST FIVE) at Maryland (8); Result: Pittsburgh wins 73-59, disputed. Ooof. I could see this type of score line for a road game, but the Panthers are expected to be a year away adjusting schemes and bringing in “different” talent. This result flexes the depth of the ACC.
Georgia Tech (OUT) at Penn State (OUT); Result: Penn State wins 67-60, confirmed. PSU wins at home, and the line is a wash. Not much to discern here, other than both are a game closer to the NIT.
Syracuse (SECOND FIVE) at Wisconsin (2); Result: Wisconsin wins 77-60, confirmed. Most people will keep Syracuse in their polls and brackets, and I don’t have much reason to hold them out other than this looks to be a rebuild season as opposed to a reload, despite the early results. The 2-3 zone couldn’t hold the drive-kick-bomb by Hayes/Koenig, but for the most part, that should allow the Orange to split in conference and get on the bubble.
NC State (FIRST FIVE) at Illinois (OUT); Result: Illinois wins 88-74, disputed. I will not fault a team for losing on the road, but NC State was handled pretty well by a team that was eventually run over by Florida State. The Pack rotation is only 6 deep, which will get them in trouble against fast and physical opponents.
Iowa (9) at Notre Dame (7); Result: Notre Dame wins 92-78, confirmed. I would like to think this is my crowning achievement. My original outline had Iowa #4 in the Big 10 and Notre Dame #7 in the ACC. After exhaustively balancing the equation, they both fell to #6, and with the strength of the ACC superior, Notre Dame landed 9 spots ahead on the S-curve. Vindicated.
Michigan State (6) at Duke (1): Result: Duke wins 77-69, confirmed. Coach K has revealed Duke has no depth. Jones and Kennard have each dropped a complete game 3 times this year… before December. That’s a lot of unnecessary miles against Penn State and URI. MSU is wallowing in preseason schedule hell, with what looks to be 4 quality losses (assuming Arizona and Baylor hold on) and one near blown shot against the Shockers. The December slate is pretty sloppy and if they lose any of these, they will slide in the seedings. MSU and Pitt have taken an approach of not forcing turnovers. Very Odd.
Minnesota (OUT) at Florida State (8); Result: Florida State wins 75-67, confirmed. Little Pitino has the Gophers with solid wins over Arlington and Arkansas, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they back-doored a cover. This was a 17-point game with 5 to play, so I’ll say things regress to the mean.
Wake Forest (OUT) at Northwestern (FIRST FIVE); Result: Northwestern wins 65-58, confirmed. The Deacs are competitive early and NW looks to be in the same position every year, being good enough to not finish last, but never getting over the hump.
Final score: 10 matchups confirmed analysis, 2 matchups are inconclusive, and 2 matchups disputed the analysis. I’ll take those percentages any day for a rough run it Bracketology after being out of the game five years.