The ACC started slow in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge and finished slow, allowing the Big 10 to win 8 out of the 12 games. This is shaping up as one of those years where the Big 10 is quite strong and the ACC is subpar.
Of course, the ACC does get to claim a victory in the biggest matchup of the night–#9 Wisconsin at #5 North Carolina. In a 60-57 score more befitting of a MAC football game than an ACC basketball game, Wisconsin was able to control the tempo but not the final scoreboard. But even this win was not overly impressive for the ACC, given the large margin by which Ohio State beat Duke. At least North Carolina was able to rebound from its loss to UNLV over the weekend and improve to 6-1.
The other ACC win came from Wake Forest, who improved to 5-2 by beating Nebraska. The 55-53 slugfest gives Wake Forest a nice road win.
The rest of the ACC lost. In a bit of a surprise, Indiana showed that it is a legitimate 7-0 team by beating NC State on the road, 86-75. Tom Crean may finally be turning things around in Hoosier-land. The Wolfpack fell to 5-2 with the loss.
Virginia Tech also fell to 5-2, losing a road game to Minnesota, 58-55. Minnesota is another team off to a great start at 7-1. It seems like the entire Big Ten is off to a really good start.
Michigan State is one team that did not get off to a good start this year, losing to North Carolina and Duke. However, the Spartans have responded with 5 straight wins, including a 65-49 victory against overmatched Florida State. With the loss, the Seminoles drop to 5-3.
And, in a result that should surprise absolutely no one, hapless Boston College lost to Penn State, at home, 62-54. Even the Nittany Lions are 6-2. Boston College dropped to 2-5.
With all precincts reporting, the results are in. The Big 10 walloped the ACC, 8-4. Not to beat a dead horse, but the Big 10 is starting out much like the Big East did last year. They have four undefeated teams (Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois, and Northwestern). In addition, they have two 7-1 teams in Minnesota and Purdue. Meanwhile, three teams that expect to be in the Big Dance lag behind those schools, with Wisconsin at 6-1 and Michigan/Michigan State both at 6-2. Only Iowa, at 4-3, is not 2 games above .500 in the Big 10.
In contrast, the ACC has no undefeated schools. Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia have one loss apiece. The ACC does have 6 more schools that are at least two games above .500. Unfortunately, the head-to-head matchups with the major conferences are suggesting that this is going to be a down year for the ACC overall. The good news is that Duke will likely rebound and North Carolina will be making news all season long.