As the first full week of December begins, the ACC/Big 10 challenge is on the docket. The annual event between two of college basketball’s Power-5 conferences brings out some of the best early-season hoops for fans of both leagues to see. This is the 22nd Challenge. Last year’s version was captured by the Big-10 as they won eight of the fourteen games played. Overall, the ACC has won this event twelve times, the Big-10 has won six times, and there have been three ties. This year, the challenge will be a two-night event that starts on December 8th and runs through December 9th. Let’s take a look at how the first night went as well as the rest of the league’s news.
It did not take long for the Big-10 to win this year’s challenge. On night one, the league was a winner in six of the seven games played. The only conference winner was Miami who defeated Purdue in the very first game. BC, #16 North Carolina, Notre Dame, #15 Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and #10 Duke all suffered losses. The Eagles were the only team to be defeated in overtime. There are four more games on tap for night two. However, there are three more games that have been postponed because of the virus. Also, the league has announced that a league contest between Virginia and Wake Forest that was scheduled for December 16 has been postponed following positive tests inside the Wake program.
The ACC Player of the Week is Georgia Tech senior forward Moses Wright. In the upset win over then #20 Kentucky Wildcats, Wright went for 21 points and eight rebounds. He has now scored 20 or more points in three straight and six for his career. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Wright has scored in double digits in 27 of the 34 games played. The Rookie of the Week is Louisville’s, Dre Davis. The Cardinals are off to a 4-0 start and in their win over Western Kentucky, Davis went for 21 points helping his team stay unbeaten.
The Pittsburgh Panthers have won their last two ballgames and have been doing it with a trio of players that are in the top-10 in scoring in the league. In fact, Pitt is the only team in the conference that has three players ranked in the top-10. There are, Au’ Diese Toney, (18.3, 4th in the league), Justin Champagnie (17.7, 6th), Xavier Johnson (17.0, 10th). The three have combined for 53 points per game, 65.7%, of the team’s offense output.
The #18 ranked Virginia Cavaliers have never been mistaken for being an offensive machine, but they do have a player that is becoming a go to guy when putting the ball in the basket. He is senior Forward Sam Hauser and he leads the team in scoring at 14.5 a game, and in rebounding at 6.8 a night. He is shooting at 58.5% from the field and 43.8% from deep (7 of 16). Not bad for someone who is playing his first and maybe his only year at Virginia.
In Syracuse’s loss to Rutgers on Tuesday night, Junior forward Alan Griffin led the team with 20 points. It was his fourth straight game in double figures. Through four games for the Orangemen, Griffin is the team’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per game. He is also averaging 7.3 boards a night. Syracuse begins conference play on Saturday afternoon at Boston College.
In last Thursday afternoon’s win over UMass Lowell, North Carolina State shot a blustering 52.3% from the field for the game. In the second half alone, the Wolfpack knocked down shots at a 55.9% rate. In each of their first three games, N.C. State has shot over 50% in all of those games. Their top seven scorers are also shooting over 50% from the field.
In the lone win of the challenge on Tuesday night, Miami had to stage a late rally to get the job done. They rallied from a 20-point deficit to capture the win. According to Elias Sports, it marked the largest comeback for a win in the last 20 seasons. The Canes outscored Purdue by 21 points over the final 13 minutes of the game to remain undefeated at 3-0.
That is some of what has happened in the league. Next week we will return with more from the ACC.
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