Best Bets: ACC/Big Ten Challenge Day 2

By Ryan Coleman

After quite the exciting Feast Week, college basketball storms along, with many blockbuster games featured in this year’s Big Ten/ACC challenge. I’m here to give you all the picks you need to win your week.

Duke at Michigan St.
8:30 pm Central, ESPN
Line: Michigan State -6.0
O/U: 146.5

The Pick: Over

While I am still on the “Duke and Michigan State are overrated” train, this is shaping up to be an exciting matchup. Both teams haven’t really dazzled so far compared to their preseason expectations, so what should we expect? That is a fantastic question. Duke may have a win over Kansas but the team was not that impressive in the win, stealing one late thanks to a turnover-heavy performance by the Jayhawks. The Blue Devils’ loss to Stephen F. Austin was yet another concerning sign, and going on the road presents yet another challenge for this young team. What they benefit from is that Michigan State has looked slow out the gate as well, with two losses already under their belt. Duke has scored 80+ is each of its last four games while Michigan State boasts the most efficient offense in all of basketball via KenPom. It is unclear which team is better early on and 146.5 might be a lot to eclipse, but I’m expecting a boatload of points between the level of talent on these two teams. 

Florida St. at Indiana
8:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: Indiana -2.5
O/U: 139.5

The Pick: Indiana -2.5

Considering Indiana’s most difficult opponent so far has been Louisiana Tech, my confidence in this pick is low. Both teams have impressed so far and while Indiana is undefeated, Florida State holds better wins, so this game should be close. What it will come down to will be the Hoosiers’ abilities to make free throws. Indiana so far has been elite at drawing fouls and getting to the charity stripe. FSU on the other hand plays physical defense, fouling a fair amount but depending on their depth to continue battling. This may be one long game but Florida State’s physicality may cost them, and IU can size up pretty well with the Seminoles. Furthermore, Assembly Hall may be one of the best home-court advantages in the nation. I think Indiana takes it and covers. 

Michigan at Louisville
6:30 pm central, ESPN
Line: Louisville -5.5
O/U: 141

The Pick: Over

This might be the game of the year featuring the number one ranked team against the Louisville Cardinals. Oh, wait, the Cardinals are number one, sorry about that. Based on their Battle 4 Atlantis performance though, Michigan is back on the map as a worthy contender come March. But you don’t want to be playing your best basketball in November. Michigan was on fire from beyond the arc, shooting a collective 47% during their time in the Bahamas. Last year, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks led the nation in 3-point FG % at 42.3%. Michigan is bound to come back down to earth, right? Meanwhile, Louisville boasts the 8th best-defense in the nation per KenPom and has a pretty solid offense themselves. I think Michigan should regress a bit but I’m not ready to bet against them yet, I’m taking the over on this one.  

Iowa at Syracuse
6:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: Syracuse -4.0
O/U: 145.5 

The Pick: Iowa +4.0

These appear to be teams whose identities are yet to be found. Iowa has lost to DePaul and San Diego St. but holds a big win over Texas Tech. Syracuse meanwhile has lost to Virginia, Oklahoma St. and Penn St, all top-25 KenPom teams, but has failed to beat anyone in the top 100. But this doesn’t seem to be the Syracuse of old. They lost four starters from last year’s tournament team, and only brought in one top-100 recruit, 97th ranked shooting guard Brycen Goodine. Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim seem to be carrying this team early on, but they are far from star status. Iowa on the other hand impressed with their Texas Tech win, expressing how legitimate their offensive game really is. The Carrier Dome is never a fun place to play, but I think Iowa pulls off a victory and with it, a cover. 

Rutgers at Pittsburgh
8:00 pm central, ESPNU
Line: Pittsburgh -3.5
O/U: 125.5

The Pick: Under

Rutgers is a team slowly building towards success. Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker form a solid scoring backcourt and Myles Johnson is a nice young center. This team is as deep as it has been in the Steve Pikiell era as well.. Pitt beat 7-1 Florida State but Rutgers beat a team who beat Duke. Does it mean anything? Who knows?! What’s clear is that both these teams struggle from beyond the arc, ranked sub 250 in three-point % each. And while Rutgers is solid from two-point land, that is where Pittsburgh’s defense excels. It is unclear which team is better or worse here and this may be the least exciting game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, I’m taking the under here. 

Northwestern at Boston College 
6:00 pm central, ESPNU
Line: Boston College -2.0
O/U: 132

The Pick: Under and Boston College -2.0

That’s right, a two-for-one deal. Also, I lied earlier, this will be the least exciting game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Northwestern will either win by 20, or lose by 20 in this one. They have already been up and down this season, looking dominant against Bradley and Providence, but barely capable of fielding a team against Merrimack and Radford. BC however is not that great of a team, coming off three straight losses to DePaul, Saint Louis and Richmond. Both offenses are kind of terrible, with the Wildcats and the Eagles ranking 169th and 242nd respectively. Boston College makes up for it with an above-average defense and Northwestern sometimes can’t buy a basket, depending a lot on getting to the charity stripe. This aids BC as they are pretty disciplined when it comes to fouling. Boston College will cover in a low scoring, hard-to-watch affair.

Last Week: 1-2-1

Season Record: 41-23-2*

*While I do not publish all my plays, you can follow all my college basketball bets on the Action Network App @RcCola3

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