The first 10 years of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge played out more like a romp than an actual challenge.
But the Big Ten finally turned the tables in each of the last two seasons, capitalizing on relatively down years for the ACC to claim narrow 6-5 victories.
And after the first night of the 2011 edition of the inter-conference competition, the Big Ten appears poised to make it three in a row.
Ohio State’s 85-63 throttling of Duke in Tuesday’s marquee matchup capped a night that saw the Big Ten grab a 4-2 lead and once again expose the once-dominant ACC for its lack of top-to-bottom depth.
Future NBA lottery pick Jared Sullinger scored 21 points to help the No. 2 Buckeyes dismantle a Duke team fresh off an impressive run to the Maui Invitational title. William Buford added 20 points, Deshaun Thomas had 18 and Aaron Craft scored 17 as Ohio State raced to an 11-0 lead and led by 19 at the half.
“Sometimes you just get your butt kicked,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game.
How many times have you heard those words from the mouth of the winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball?
Highly-touted freshman Austin Rivers scored 22 points to lead the fourth-ranked Blue Devils who lost for only the second time in the 13-year history of the event.
The ACC will be playing catch-up on Wednesday when the rest of its teams take the court looking to bolster the conference’s national profile and RPI.
No. 5 North Carolina — which may be without Harrison Barnes — hosts No. 7 Wisconsin in the nightcap. Florida State’s visit to Michigan State, Virginia Tech’s trip to Minnesota and the Indiana-N.C. state matchup are the other top games on the slate.
Pundits highlighted this matchup as a potential proving ground for a Cavaliers team looking to climb the conference ladder and give itself an early-season victory that would hold water before the selection committee in March. Mike Scott had 18 points and 11 rebounds and the turnover-prone Cavaliers took advantage of their best non-conference contest of the season, committing only eight turnovers on the night and doubling that total with 16 assists. Virginia also benefitted from getting Michigan’s leading scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr. in foul trouble early. He finished with season lows in minutes (25) and points (5).
Read Steve Yanda’s full game story here.
Not long ago Northwestern was that walk-over victory on the Big Ten regular season schedule. Now they boast the conference’s leading scorer and, after a comfortable victory in Atlanta, a 6-0 record. John Shurna had 25 points with three 3-pointers and eight rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a second straight win against the Yellow Jackets.
Maryland led 35-31 at the half but could not sustain its effort for the full 40 minutes as the Fighting Illini improved to 7-0 on the season behind clutch outside shooting down the stretch. Sam Maniscalco, a fifth-year grad student transfer from Bradley, hit five of eight 3-pointers to lead Illinois with 24 points. Sophomore Terrell Stoglin had 25 for the Terps who shot just 60 percent from the free throw line and were out-rebounded 34-27.
Read Liz Clarke’s full game story here.
With a finally healthy Robbie Hummel leading the way, Purdue exploited Miami’s guard-heavy lineup to hand first-year head coach Jim Larranaga his second loss of the young season. Hummel finished with 17 points, Lewis Jackson added 15 and Terone Johnson had 13 for the Boilermakers who shot 71 percent from inside the arc to win their 22nd straight on their home floor.
The Tigers continued to hold up their end of the bargain for the ACC, winning for the ninth time in 13 Challenge contests behind 19 points from Andre Young. T.J. Sapp scored 13 points off the bench as Clemson shot 52 percent from the field, out-rebounded Iowa 41-23 and held the Hawkeyes to 29 percent shooting on their home court.