Big Ten

A rundown of all 14 matchups in this year's Big Ten-ACC Challenge

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USA TODAY

A rundown of all 14 matchups in this year's Big Ten-ACC Challenge

Though the Big Ten football season reaches its exciting conclusion Saturday night in Indianapolis, one of the best times of the Big Ten basketball season is already here.

The Big Ten-ACC Challenge hits hardwoods across the country this week, starting Monday night.

The Big Ten heads into the annual conference-vs.-conference throwdown a bit hobbled after last week, with just three teams in the most recent top-25 rankings (compared to the ACC's five) and marquee programs coming off upsetting losses. But still, the matchups are always too good to ignore.

Here's a quick rundown of the 14 games hitting your TV screens over the next few nights. All times are Central.

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State, 6 p.m., ESPNU

​The Gophers haven't faced anyone of great significance, but Richard Pitino's team is an attention-grabbing 6-0. Minnesota is getting one great performance after another from freshman Amir Coffey, who is averaging 15.8 points per game and scored 30 three games back in a win over St. John's. This will be the second straight Big Ten opponent for 5-1 Florida State, which handed Illinois a double-digit loss. The Seminoles were ranked as recently as last week and are getting 18.2 points per game from leading scorer Dwayne Bacon.

Wake Forest vs. Northwestern, 6 p.m., ESPNU

Last week's tough loss to Notre Dame is perhaps still stinging for the Cats, who could be 5-1 with a pair of signature wins. But they threw that game away against the Irish and sit at 4-2. Vic Law has been terrific after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury. He's now averaging 17.7 points a game and is 17-for 27 from 3-point range, second in the Big Ten in deep-ball percentage. Wake Forest is 5-1 with its only loss coming against reigning-champion Villanova.

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Pittsburgh at Maryland, 6 p.m., ESPN2

​Despite no top-25 ranking at the moment, the Terps have yet to lose in their first seven games. Granted, they aren't really blowing anyone out, with their two best wins one-pointers over Georgetown and Kansas State and wins against American, Towson and Richmond coming by single digits. Still, Melo Trimble is playing well, averaging 21.1 points a game, the second-highest scoring mark in the Big Ten, and he's an eye-popping 50-for-62 from the free-throw line already this season. Pitt, 5-1, is getting even more points from Michael Young, who averages 23.3 a game.

Georgia Tech at Penn State, 6 p.m., ESPNU

​Quite the roller-coaster ride for 4-3 Penn State so far, which lost to Albany to open the season and has two other losses to then-ranked opponents, one of them being then-No. 1 Duke. The Nittany Lions have four players averaging double figures, including freshmen Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens. Georgia Tech is 4-1 but has played absolutely no one of note, with Penn State being its first major-conference foe.

No. 22 Syracuse at No. 17 Wisconsin, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

The Badgers have stumbled a couple times already this season, cold-shooting proving their downfall in losses to top-10 opponents Creighton and North Carolina, hence the 5-2 record. Stars Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig have had their hot and cold days, though Ethan Happ has continued to be great, currently second in the Big Ten in rebounding and steals. Another ranked foe awaits in 4-1 Syracuse, fresh off its first loss of the season to South Carolina. Former Nebraska star Andrew White III is leading the Orange in scoring with 15.8 points a game.

North Carolina State at Illinois, 8 p.m., ESPNU

​Last week was down right nightmarish for the Illini, who lost three times: first in embarrassing overtime fashion to Winthrop, then in blowout fashion to West Virginia and then by double digits to Florida State. Defense has been the most glaring issue, with Illinois allowing 72.1 points a game (12th in the Big Ten) and allowing opponents to shoot 42.3 percent from the field (also 12th in the Big Ten). Malcolm Hill's still a top-six scorer in the league (18.3 points a game), but the 4-3 Illini are playing as poorly as possible right now, not a good sign with 5-1 NC State coming to Champaign.

Iowa at Notre Dame, 8 p.m., ESPN2

​The Hawkeyes are a on a scoring tear right now, averaging 86.3 points a game, the second-best mark in the Big Ten, behind the Big Ten's leading scorer and America's second-leading scorer in Peter Jok, who's averaging 25.3 points a game. Though while scoring 90-plus in four of their six games, they're somehow just 3-3 with a loss to top-10 Virginia but also to unranked Seton Hall and Memphis teams. Notre Dame is a perfect 6-0, avoiding disaster in its previous run in with a Big Ten team last week against Northwestern.

Michigan State at No. 5 Duke, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

The Spartans have had an absolutely brutal schedule to open their season, losing three times already but doing it against three teams currently ranked in the top 16 (No. 1 Kentucky, No. 9 Baylor and No. 16 Arizona). Highly rated freshman Miles Bridges, though, has lived up to the hype, leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds a game, ranking in the top 10 in the Big Ten in both categories. Fifth-ranked and 6-1 Duke provides no reprieve from the onslaught of top teams on Michigan State's schedule. The Blue Devils are getting double-figure scoring averages from five guys and 16-plus scoring averages from three. And that's all without fabulous freshmen Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles even seeing the floor yet.

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Virginia Tech at Michigan, 6:15 p.m., ESPN2

​The Wolverines had a brief stay in the top 25, bounced out after just a week thanks to a hideous shooting performance in a loss to South Carolina. Michigan was an almost-unbelievable 10-for-52 from the floor and 2-for-26 from 3-point range in that one and now sit at 5-1. The Hokies are also 5-1, a three-point loss to Texas A&M their lone blemish. Virginia Tech just played and beat a Big Ten team, taking down Nebraska, 66-53.

No. 15 Purdue at No. 14 Louisville, 6:15 p.m., ESPN

The Boilers lost their second game of the season to reigning-champion Villanova but have been a steamroller since. Purdue has won its last three games by a combined 57 points. Caleb Swanigan has been beastly, and he's averaging a double-double with 18.8 points and 12 rebounds a game, fourth and first in the Big Ten in those respective categories. Fellow skyscraper Isaac Haas has also been great, averaging 16.5 points a game. Louisville, 5-1, hasn't been the highest-scoring team this season, but the Cardinals are the best rebounders in the ACC and boast the conference's leader in steals, Donovan Mitchell.

Rutgers at Miami, 6:15 p.m., ESPNU

​How about the still-undefeated Scarlet Knights? No, the competition hasn't been very good, but Rutgers has won every game it's played. It travels to play Miami, and only once have the Knights played a true road game during their six-game win streak to open the campaign (at DePaul). The wealth's being spread when it comes to scoring, with five players averaging nine points a game or better, and Deshawn Freeman and Corey Sanders rank in the top five in the Big Ten in rebounding and assists, respectively. After starting the season with four straight wins, Miami has dropped back-to-back games against Iowa State and Florida, two ranked teams.

Nebraska at Clemson, 8:15 p.m., ESPNU

​It's a two-game losing streak for the 4-2 Huskers, who have lost back-to-back games to UCLA and Virginia Tech. Tai Webster is playing real well for Nebraska, averaging 18.5 points per game, good for fifth in the Big Ten. Clemson is 3-2 with losses to Xavier and Oklahoma, both coming by only six points. The Tigers are led by the scoring of Jaron Blossomgame, who is averaging 18.4 points a night.

No. 3 North Carolina at No. 13 Indiana, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

This was supposed to be an epic rematch of last year's Elite Eight game and of course still could be, though it would've been two top-five teams had the now 4-1 Hoosiers not lost in shocking fashion to IPFW last week. The offense was not working for Indiana in that game, something it'll need to have going against the powerful Heels. The Hoosiers are still the highest-scoring team in the Big Ten. Carolina is coming off a terrific showing in Maui, defeating Wisconsin soundly in the title game there. A perfect 7-0, the Heels are getting great performance from Joel Berry II (17.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game), Justin Jackson (15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game) and Kennedy Meeks (13.7 points and 10.7 rebounds a game).

Ohio State at No. 6 Virginia, 8:15 p.m., ESPN2

​How many points will Ohio State score at Virginia? A good guess would be "not many." The 6-0 Cavaliers are again playing their trademark shut-down defense, limiting opponents to a nation-low 41.3 points a game. That includes holding Iowa, the Big Ten's second-highest scoring team, to just 41 two games ago. The Buckeyes are a perfect 6-0, too, and have plenty of options to go to for points with sixth guys averaging double figures. But man that Virginia defense is good.

See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 12 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Oklahoma (10-1)

Still the team with the best resume in the country, no one can compete with OU’s wins over TCU, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the latter two coming away from Norman. Baker Mayfield might not be a choir boy, but he’s the best player in the nation.

2. Miami (10-0)

You might think that being down 28-14 to Virginia in the second half was cringe-worthy, but the Canes made up for things by storming back with 30 unanswered points. Now they finally have to go away from South Florida for the first time since almost losing to North Carolina last month.

3. Alabama (11-0)

Tide gonna roll. But this Cupcake Weekend in the SEC has got to stop. While teams in other conferences are slugging it out against rivals, Bama gets to take a day off against Mercer? It’s just not fair. Also, Bama’s schedule is so soft, there’s no way it deserves to be the No. 1 team in the country.

4. Georgia (10-1)

The Dawgs should wrap an 11-1 regular season this weekend against Georgia Tech. But the SEC title game presents a kind of no-win scenario: undefeated Alabama or Auburn, who throttled Georgia earlier this month.

5. Wisconsin (11-0)

You didn’t need Wisconsin to do what it did to Iowa and Michigan to prove it had one of the best defenses in the country — but that sure didn’t help. Stockpiling national love with those two wins, a win in the Big Ten title game figures to make the Badgers a Playoff lock.

6. Clemson (10-1)

Why’d Kelly Bryant have to go and get hurt for that Syracuse game? The Tigers would be No. 1 and the undisputed best team in the country. Still, though, a win over Miami in the ACC title game ought to get the champs back into the Playoff.

7. Auburn (9-2)

Great job pounding Louisiana-Monroe, Tigers. You shall not escape the wrath over Cupcake Weekend in the SEC. That dumb game aside, Auburn and Alabama will meet in a titanic Iron Bowl this weekend with a trip to the SEC title game on the line — and perhaps a Playoff spot, as well.

8. Ohio State (9-2)

Not that pummeling Illinois is any big deal, but the Buckeyes are still alive in this thing and look like a team capable of making some Playoff noise. First, Ohio State has to win The Game and then the Big Ten title game to knock out undefeated Wisconsin.

9. Notre Dame (9-2)

Out of the Playoff chase thanks to that loss at Miami, Notre Dame squeaked by Navy this past weekend. Hope a New Year’s Six bowl game is enough for the Irish. We know it’s not enough for those ND fans. So maybe join a conference? Just saying.

10. TCU (9-2)

The Frogs can still make their mark on the Playoff race, even if they can’t get in themselves. The Big 12 title game will almost surely be TCU’s attempt at revenge on Oklahoma. Unfortunately, if revenge does come, it will probably cannibalize the conference’s Playoff hopes, too.

11. Penn State (9-2)

Why Penn State gave up 44 points to Nebraska, I do not know. What I do know is that probably no one cared because Penn State is going to go down as the most inconsequential 10-2 team of all-time. Such a bummer considering the preseason expectations for both the team and Saquon Barkley.

12. USC (10-2)

Yeah, I guess there’s still a way for USC to make the Playoff, but it’s hard to imagine that madness unfolding, even in the oft-mad college football. The Trojans get the winner of the Apple Cup in the Pac-12 title game.

13. UCF (10-0)

Finally we get our much-anticipated UCF-USF showdown this weekend. Make it count, Knights. This is probably gonna be Scott Frost’s last regular-season game in Orlando.

14. Washington (9-2)

It’s hard to say who has the edge in the Apple Cup, but certainly the stakes are high, with the winner going off to play USC in the Pac-12 title game. Can either team make the Playoff? Well, probably not, no.

15. Washington State (9-2)

Is this it for Mike Leach on The Palouse? He could be a hot candidate this offseason and leave for perceived greener pastures. Winning the Apple Cup would go a long way toward making that happen.

16. Mississippi State (8-3)

A win in the Egg Bowl means a 9-3 regular season for the Bulldogs with their three losses coming against three top-10 teams.

17. Oklahoma State (8-3)

Poor Okie State has been so good all year and had two losses to the two best teams in its conference, and then it went and lost to K-State for some ridiculous reason. The Mullet deserved better in 2017.

18. Northwestern (8-3)

The Cats are the fourth-best team in the Big Ten, simple as that, with wins over Michigan State and Iowa and conference losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. As commendable an effort as you’ll find in a highly competitive league. Plus, Fitz’s team is on a six-game win streak that could end up extending to eight.

19. Stanford (8-3)

Already with a win over Washington, Stanford could close the regular season with two wins over top-10 teams in its final three games. Also Bryce Love is back in the groove after back-to-back 100-yard games.

20. Memphis (9-1)

The Tigers have lost just one game all season, to the best Group of Five team out there. Heck of a season by Memphis.

21. Michigan State (8-3)

A 17-7 win over Maryland couldn't have been the most exciting way for anyone to spend their weekend. Sparty's had a mighty fine season, though, considering how badly things went in 2016.

22. LSU (8-3)

The SEC has seemingly gotten increasingly better as the year has progressed, with LSU and Mississippi State making for a solid-enough middle tier. But remember when LSU lost to Troy? That wasn’t good.

23. South Florida (9-1)

If not for that loss to Houston, USF’s showdown with UCF this weekend would be for Group of Five supremacy. Even without that, though, this should be a highly entertaining affair.

24. Virginia Tech (8-3)

The Hokies have a chance to salvage their tumble at the close of the season with a win at Virginia. But given how well the Cavs played at Miami this past weekend, a VT win is no sure thing.

25. Iowa State (7-4)

I understand the math and all, but can't the Big 12 just suspend its rules and send Iowa State to the title game? We all want to see the OU-ISU rematch. Why are you preventing us from being happy, Big 12?

See how they stack up: Week 11 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 11 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 11 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Oklahoma (9-1)

The Sooners probably won’t be No. 1 in the Playoff rankings, as the committee will almost surely move Bama up a notch. But OU has an incredible resume, one much better than the Tide’s, with wins over Ohio State, TCU and Okie State. No one in the country can compete with those wins.

2. Miami (9-0)

The Canes are too legit to quit after pulverizing Notre Dame on Saturday night. That signature win teamed with the prior week’s win over Virginia Tech makes that near loss to lowly North Carolina seem like forever ago. Welcome to Miami, indeed.

3. Alabama (10-0)

A great win on Saturday night by the Tide in what seemed like their first actual game of the season. The schedule has been soft as silk, but now Auburn’s status as an SEC juggernaut makes the Iron Bowl a colossal clash.

4. Georgia (9-1)

Knocked off the top of the college football mountain, the Dawgs still deserve to be in the Playoff field, just a one-loss team with that one loss coming to another top team and that still-excellent win at Notre Dame. The resume’s still there, but now the SEC title game will be for all the marbles.

5. Wisconsin (10-0)

Bucky’s sitting pretty after making Iowa look like an FCS team on Saturday — especially impressive considering what Iowa did the week prior. Expect Michigan and Minnesota to provide decent enough challenges, but it seems like Wisconsin’s set up for a Big Ten title-game date with Ohio State.

6. Clemson (9-1)

Miami is the king of the ACC, but thankfully the ACC title game looks to be a Playoff play-in game between the Tigers and Canes. The champs still have as good a shot at this thing as anyone.

7. Auburn (8-2)

Two-loss Auburn in the Playoff? It’s not crazy at all after what the Tigers did to Georgia on Saturday, destroying the No. 1 team in the country and setting up what will be another titanic Iron Bowl meeting with Bama.

8. Notre Dame (8-2)

The Irish’s Playoff hopes sank like a ship in Biscayne Bay thanks to the demolition Miami dolled out on Saturday night. ND’s resume is still fine — two losses to two Playoff-caliber teams. But with no conference title to play for, a two-loss ND team might as well be a six-loss ND team.

9. Ohio State (8-2)

Guess who's still lurking in the Playoff race? It seemed Brutus was dead as could be after getting woodshedded by Iowa last weekend, but then Ohio State put a whooping on Michigan State and everyone’s ears perked up again. Appearing destined for the Big Ten title game, things could get interesting.

10. TCU (8-2)

The Frogs will most likely still get a crack at a Big 12 title — and revenge on the Sooners, who picked em apart on Saturday — but the Playoff might be out of the cards now.

11. Oklahoma State (8-2)

You know who’s still really good despite having losses to the two top teams in the Big 12? Okie State. That was some game between the Pokes and the ‘Clones on Saturday. If only the Mullet could be unleashed on the Playoff. Alas.

12. USC (9-2)

Dramatically overrated in the last batch of Playoff rankings, the Trojans now seem to be the cream of the unimpressive Pac-12 after Washington’s loss. All sorts of madness would have to occur in order for USC — or any Pac-12 team — to land in the final four.

13. Penn State (8-2)

Great job beating up on Rutgers this weekend, Penn State. Now what? With games against Nebraska and Maryland left, will any preseason favorite (outside Florida State, of course) get less attention down the stretch than the Lions?

14. UCF (9-0)

Central Florida is that Group of Five team this year. If it beats USF in the regular-season finale, people you know will be like, “Why shouldn’t UCF be in the Playoff?” And you’ll just have to give them a look and walk away.

15. Washington State (9-2)

Wazzu has to win one game and it’ll play USC for a Pac-12 title. Despite the lack of Playoff stakes, the Cougs winning a conference championship would be a pretty big deal.

16. Washington (8-2)

Of course, standing in Wazzu’s way is Washington, which tripped up against Stanford and could follow up last year’s Playoff appearance with absolutely nothing.

17. NC State (7-3)

The ACC and SEC seemed to have flipped roles overnight. The once-mediocre SEC now has three playoff-caliber teams and a couple other decent ones. The once-awesome ACC now has two of the best teams in the country and then … NC State.

18. Mississippi State (7-3)

The Bulldogs put up one heck of a fight against Bama on Saturday, and if it wasn’t for that ridiculous sequence of play-calling following Bama’s missed field goal, they might have won. Oh well.

19. LSU (7-3)

LSU beat Arkansas on Saturday, which isn’t a terribly difficult thing to do. 2017 will go down as a “what if” year for the Bayou Bengals. As in, what if they hadn’t lost to Troy?

20. Stanford (7-3)

Two of Stanford’s losses have come against ranked teams. It’s now beaten Washington and could beat Notre Dame in two weeks. It has one of the best running backs in America. So shouldn’t Stanford be better?

21. Memphis (8-1)

Since losing at UCF, Memphis has rolled everyone, winning five straight by an average of 47.8-27.2. Good job, Memphis.

22. Arizona (7-3)

The Wildcats are 7-3 this season and have scored at least 45 points in every one of those wins. That includes last weekend’s win over Oregon State, in which Khalil Tate ran for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Dude's good.

23. Northwestern (7-3)

Meow. The Cats are winners of five straight, even if their overtime streak came to an end. The quest for a 9-3 finish is on, with only Minnesota and lowly Illinois left on the regular-season schedule.

24. Michigan State (7-3)

Two losses in three weeks for Sparty, who got absolutely steamrolled by Ohio State this past weekend. Michigan State will likely be rooting for Michigan in The Game as it would figure to wrap its regular season with wins over Maryland and Rutgers.

25. West Virginia (7-3)

The ‘Neers have only lost to Virginia Tech, TCU and Okie State, which is not too bad. But that’s a couple losses too many in the high-flying Big 12.

Others receiving votes:

Virginia Tech (7-3)

Things have bottomed out for the Hokies, who have lost back-to-back road games to Miami and Georgia Tech after a 7-1 start. Without the loss to the Jackets, Virginia Tech’s resume would look real nice. But alas.

Iowa State (6-4)

There was almost another Attack of the ‘Clones this past weekend in a thriller with Okie State. But the Pokes came out on top, sending Iowa State to its fourth loss. That dream Big 12 title game featuring the ‘Clones? A fantasy. Sigh.

Michigan (8-2)

Michigan only has two losses, which means it has to be kinda good, right? Well, it’s lost its only two games against ranked teams and its best win is Florida, so … no, I guess not.

South Florida (8-1)

Way to beat UConn, South Florida.