May 1, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT
The matchups for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge were announced on Thursday afternoon. We’ve gone ahead and ranked the 14 games for you in case you feel the need to set your DVR seven months in advance:
1. Duke at Wisconsin: The Big Ten did right by us with the marquee matchup of the challenge. Two of the nation’s top five teams. The favorite in the ACC vs. the favorite in the Big Ten. Perhaps most importantly, arguably the nation’s two best big men — and inarguably the nation’s two best low-post scorers — in Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor will square off. I’m not going to lie, I’m excited about this matchup already.
CBT Pick: Wisconsin
2. Ohio State at Louisville: Louisville got some great news last month when Montrezl Harrell announced that he would be returning to campus for his junior season. With Chris Jones and Terry Rozier back as well, the Cards jumped up into the national top ten. Ohio State will be in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but with Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson returning, Anthony Lee joining the fray and D’Angelo Russell headlining a good recruiting class, the Buckeyes have the pieces to be a factor in the Big Ten race once again.
CBT Pick: Louisville
3. Iowa at North Carolina: North Carolina got some good news when Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson announced that they would be returning to school. Chapel Hill will also really like incoming freshman Justin Jackson, who will provide a scoring pop from the wing that James Michael McAdoo was never quite able to master. Iowa returns everyone from last season’s team except Roy Devyn Marble, although there are some that believe that may end up being addition by subtraction.
CBT Pick: North Carolina
4. Virginia at Maryland: Well, this is boring. The leagues had a chance to get a rematch from last year’s Sweet 16 thriller between Michigan State and Virginia, but instead decided to send the preseason top 10 Cavs on the road to face their old ACC rival Maryland in the Terps’ first season in the Big Ten. Snore. Hopefully, Maryland doesn’t lose anymore transfers and will be able to live up to their potential this season, which could make this game interesting.
CBT Pick: Virginia
5. Syracuse at Michigan: A rematch of the 2013 Final Four minus much of the intrigue. Both teams will likely be preseason top 25 teams, although that will be based more on reputation than any certainly about these two rosters. Michigan’s back court is loaded but their front court is empty while Syracuse will once again be operating with a single, freshman point guard.
CBT Pick: Michigan
6. Michigan State at Notre Dame: The Spartans lost quite a bit this offseason, but with Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice back, Tom Izzo has a nice core to work with. The Fighting Irish should be back in the tournament mix as well, as Jerian Grant will be returning to school.
CBT Pick: Michigan State
7. Indiana at Pitt: It will be interesting to see what happens with Indiana this season, as the program is dealing with quite a bit of turmoil. Pitt should make a return to the NCAA tournament as well.
CBT Pick: Pitt
8. Nebraska at Florida State: The Cornhuskers are going to be the most intriguing team in the Big Ten next season. After the year that they had under Tim Miles in 2013-2014, don’t be surprising to see them crack some preseason top 25 polls. But the Seminoles aren’t going to be pushovers next year, and Nebraska can struggle on the road.
CBT Pick: Florida State
9. Illinois at Miami: Miami loses quite a bit from last season, but with Angel Rodriguez, Sheldan McClellan and Deandre Burnett playing this season, expect the Hurricanes to be back in the NCAA tournament conversation. Illinois will likely be down again this season, but Rayvonte Rice will be one of the best scorers in the conference.
CBT Pick: Miami
10. Minnesota at Clemson: This will be an intriguing matchup of styles, but the Gophers should be the better team after Clemson lost K.J. McDaniels.
CBT Pick: Minnesota
11. N.C. State at Purdue: This matchup would be more interesting if T.J. Warren hadn’t left for the NBA. As is, the Boilermakers should be able to use A.J. Hammons to overwhelm the Wolfpack inside.
CBT Pick: Purdue
12. Georgia Tech at Northwestern
CBT Pick: Georgia Tech
13. Rutgers at Wake Forest
CBT Pick: Wake Forest
14. Virginia Tech at Penn State
CBT Pick: Penn State
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