Best Bets: ACC/Big Ten Challenge Day 3

By Ryan Coleman

After an exciting first two days, It’s time to wrap up the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This slate of games may not be as exciting as Tuesday’s, but there are a couple of blockbusters (I’m looking at you, Ohio State/UNC). Time to dig into the final day of this challenge and give you the best bets to win your day:

Virginia at Purdue
6:15 pm central, ESPN 2
Line: Purdue -1.5
O/U: 103.5

The Pick: Virginia +1.5

Purdue so far has been a tough nut to crack, losing to Texas, Marquette, and Florida State in overtime. They do have a win over a tough VCU team– so this will be no walk in the park for Virginia, especially since it’s in West Lafayette. Both of these teams are elite defensively, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the total doesn’t even reach 100, but I’m feeling good about Virginia here. Every game that Purdue has shot less than 50% from two, they’ve lost so far, and I can’t imagine they will eclipse that against Tony Bennett’s team. This line opened with Purdue as a -3.5 point favorite too, so the public is clearly backing the Cavaliers here. The game will absolutely be close so it most likely will be a stressful 40 minutes, best Virginia should find a way.

Nebraska at Georgia Tech
6:15 pm central. ESPNU
Line: Georgia Tech -8.5
O/U: 138.5

The Pick: Georgia Tech -8.5

The Cornhuskers are pretty weak this year, perhaps even the worst team in the Big Ten, and that is saying something. They have a bunch of new players in the group under Fred Hoiberg and still seem to be figuring out their identity with some tough losses already. Georgia Tech on the other hand has a surprisingly efficient defense so far, with a win over N.C. State and losses to Georgia and Arkansas (in overtime). Georgia Tech will be able to dominate the glass in this one as Nebraska has an elite inability to rebound. The Yellow Jackets will depend on their fifth best 2-point defense as well and cover.  

Notre Dame at Maryland
6:30 pm central, ESPN
Line: Maryland -9.5
O/U: 144

The Pick: Maryland -9.5

This Terrapin team is coming off a dominant win, beating Marquette by 21 points in their most recent outing. Notre Dame has lost to UNC and then played a light schedule, barely squeaking by Toledo in overtime. The Irish are elite at ball control which bodes well, but the Irish’s inefficiencies shooting the ball combined with Maryland’s athleticism and defense at the rim will make up for that. People may be quick to forget that the Terrapins stumbled to wins over Harvard and Temple but they really turned it around against Marquette and they should benefit from playing this game at home. Maryland’s Terrapin train doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, and they should cruise by the Irish, taking this game by double-digits.

Wake Forest at Penn State
8:15 pm central, ESPNU
Line: Penn State -11.5
O/U: 144.5

The Pick: Wake Forest +11.5

Penn State has impressed so far in this young season, but their wins are already losing quality. Georgetown might have had something hiding behind the curtains mentally, Syracuse is not the Syracuse of old, Yale should have beaten this team, and the Nittany Lions collapsed late against Ole Miss. Wake Forest holds a tough loss to Charlotte but competed against Arizona and looked competitive overall last week at Wooden Legacy. I absolutely think the Nittany Lions win this game but 11.5 is a lot of points to cover. Wake Forest depends a lot on getting to the foul line and that’s how they will keep themselves in this game. Penn State is a team not used to being such large favorites and Wake Forest has shown they can cover as big underdogs. Penn State wins. Wake Forest Covers. 

Wisconsin at NC State
8:15 pm central, ESPN2
Line: NC State -5
O/U: 132.5

The Pick: NC State -5

Neither team has really impressed so far, with Wisconsin holding three losses to mid-major foes and NC State pretty much playing as expected. The Badgers have struggled to replace the multi-faceted impact that Ethan Happ made on games, and the Wolfpack’s offense hasn’t been as dynamic as many might have expected. The two styles of play are quite different and it will be intriguing to see how they clash. NC State has a solid collection of guards in Markell Johnson, CJ Bryce and Devon Daniels, all quick, efficient scorers but the Wolfpack has little frontcourt production. Wisco is a bit more balanced but struggle to create their own shots with a slow pace. I have no idea what to expect here. NC State’s pace could overpower the Badgers and the Wolfpack could run away with the game, or Wisconsin’s patient defense and slow pace could frustrate NC State, leading to turnovers and a Badger victory. I believe it will be more of the former. Wisconsin is struggling of late coming of losses to Richmond and New Mexico. NC State’s athleticism and offensive efficiency will lead them to a cover.

Ohio State at North Carolina 
8:30 pm central, ESPN
Line: UNC -3.5
O/U: 140

The Pick: Ohio State +3.5

Oh boy, get your popcorn out because this is a blockbuster. Ohio State has begun the season guns ablazing with dominant wins over Cincinnati and Villanova. They have a deep team, a stingy defense, and Kaleb Wesson who’s been quite efficient. Meanwhile UNC still seems to be figuring their identity out. UNC might be favored here but I think Ohio State wins, really claiming a spot in basketball eliteness. The Tar Heels depends a lot on forcing the ball inside, but Ohio State can defend that, rolling out reinforcements up front if they get into foul trouble as well. Cole Anthony is special with the ball in his hands of course, but the Buckeyes have a slew of athletic guards like freshman DJ Carton and sophomore Luther Muhammad who can make Anthony work for his 20 points. This is UNC’s first game back at home in a bit so clearly the atmosphere will favor the Tar Heels, but they seem to not be the elite powerhouse we have grown so accustomed to watching, and I am all on board this Buckeye team.

Yesterday: 6-4Season Record: 47-28-2*

*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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