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Big Ten/ACC Challenge

In its 9 years of existence, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge has been fairly one-sided: The ACC has won every single time. 2008 brings yet another chance for the Big Ten to break through in the Challenge. Through two days of competition, the conference are tied at 3 wins apiece (thanks, Illini and Hawkeyes, for throwing your games away). With a couple daunting games left (UNC/MSU, Indiana/Wake Forest), the teams who represented the bottom of the conference last year will have to sweep the ACC in order for the Big Ten to lock up its first challenge.

Sagarin Ratings in remaining games
  • #129 Indiana visits #22 Wake Forest, and they'll be 16.39 point underdogs in Raleigh-Durham.
  • #83 Penn State takes on #58 Georgia Tech on the road, in a game in which the Jackets will be favored by 5.13 points.
  • #23 Michigan State hosts #1 North Carolina at Ford Field. They will be 10.21-point dogs in the neutral-site game. However, The 'Heels may be without their star, Tyler Hansbrough (who, of course, they've been without for much of this year).
  • #46 Florida State goes to Chicago to face #59 Northwestern, and the Big Ten actually has a favorite in this one! The Cats are 7.06-point favorites.
...And that brings us to the game that Michigan fans care most about: the Wolverines head to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins at 7:30 tonight on ESPNU.

Maryland sports a #34 Sagarin Rating, and Michigan is #40. On a neutral floor, Beilein's bunch would be a 2.36-point underdog. In a home game, the Terps are favored by 6.36. They enter this contest on a two-game slide against Gonzaga and Georgetown. Maryland's best player is the outstandingly-monikered Grievis Vasquez, who leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists. His effective field goal percentage is 45.88%, which is supbar. Georgetown managed to shut Vasquez down, holding him to 1-7 shooting (0-4 3pt).

Michigan State
  • Maryland faced Michigan State (on a neutral floor) in the Old Spice Classic, and beat the Spartans handily, by a score of 80-62.
  • Michigan State, the only team Maryland has played with a Sagarin rating anywhere remotely close to Michigan's, Vasquez still only shot 42.86 eFG%, meaning that he is certainly containable (of course, his 17 points were aided by the Spartans sending him to the free throw line 6 times).
  • Michigan State lost the game against Maryland by giving up too many good looks from the outside. The Terrapins shot 9-19 from behind the arc in the Old Spice Classic. For the year, Michigan's opponents are shooting 27.45% from three, including bad performance by UCLA and Duke, and an inexplicable 7-9 from Savannah State. For its part, Maryland's performance against State was a pretty significant outlier in the young season.
  • The Terrapins also managed to shut down Raymar Morgan, who to this point in 2008 has been MSU's go-to player. Michigan doesn't rely on a post presence like Morgan, instead shooting the ball from outside a lot, and getting slashes to the basket from Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims (who also posts up a bit).
  • Although Maryland shut down MSU's post presence, they don't have a lot of size, and it will be interesting to see whether DeShawn Sims can have a bit more success down low (along with Zack Gibson) - or at least use the postup to open up shooters outside.
The Wolverines face a tough test, especially since Maryland shut down a team expected to be far better than them in the Spartans. However, the Terrapins haven't been without their troubles, and Michigan is a different type of team than Michigan State, regardless of difference in talent level.

Go Blue, beat the Terrapins!

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“Big Ten/ACC Challenge”

  1. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    The Sagarin rankings are basically meaningless at this point in the season. They're still weighted with last year's results, so they don't really show you how a team is doing.

  2. Blogger adam Says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Blogger adam Says:

    Raymar Morgan was in foul trouble for the whole time against Maryland, which is not entirely shutting a player down. Sure, it's to their credit that he was in foul trouble, but I don't consider that on par with a classic domination.