The annual ACC – Big Ten challenge has its matchups set for the 2022-23 rendition. And Kyle Boone of CBS Sports did college hoops fans the courtesy of rankings every game in the challenge coming up this season. Here were his rankings along with some personal analysis:
1. Ohio State at Duke
The Buckeyes were the first spoilers of the Coach K Retirement Tour last fall, as Zed Key had the game of his life en route to an Ohio State victory. Chris Holtmann’s club was named a top winner of the transfer portal recently, while Duke boasts a stacked No. 1 ranked recruiting class, per the On3 Consensus. Blue Devils likely roll in Cameron Indoor, but the guys in scarlet and white won’t be scared.
2. North Carolina at Indiana
For my money, by far the most interesting matchup in the challenge. North Carolina obviously will be one of the top-ranked teams in the preseason — and likely the No. 1 team in the polls. Meanwhile, Mike Woodson is looking to build off a successful first season where he returned most of his core. Beating the defending runner-ups in Assembly Hall early in the non-conference slate would be the biggest “WE’RE BACK” moment for the Hoosiers since Christian Watford dotted that three over Darius Miller in 2011.
3. Purdue at Florida State
Aside from the blue bloods, there may not be two coaches running more consistently successful teams. Matt Painter and Leonard Hamilton are two of the finer coaching gentlemen in the game with pristine programs and a game between the two should be a delight. Although, frankly, the Boilermakers and Seminoles may not have one of their better teams heading into this season.
Quite a strange choice for the No. 4 spot. Steve Pikiell’s job at Rutgers to get that program into the last two NCAA Tournaments is astounding, but they lost their star player and are more likely than not to miss the tournament in ’23. Miami landed an incredible transfer haul and bring back their star. It’s just…neither program is a big name and this game probably won’t get the attention of half-a-dozen or so of the others.
Two traditional basketball powers with great head coaches squaring off in Ann Arbor. Should be a great matchup between two defensive powerhouses that need to find consistent perimeter scoring in order to reach their potential. A consequential early-season game for both squads.
6. Michigan State at Notre Dame
Tom Izzo needs to get out to a good start in 2022-23. His last two seasons were fairly underwhelming following the 2019 Final Four berth. Meanwhile, Mike Brey may have saved his job by nabbing a Last Four In spot in the ’22 NCAA Tournament. The Irish return four super-seniors and added a fifth in the transfer portal. No excuse not to pick up a marquee win over the Spartans in South Bend.
The Fighting Illini typically excel from the three-point line, while the ‘Cuse zone has been a turnstile in the regular season over the last couple years. Brad Underwood’s club should thump the Orange — who simply don’t have the offensive firepower they did in their last few tourney runs.
8. Maryland at Louisville
The crowning achievement of Louisville’s 2021-22 season was smoking the Terrapins in the Baha Mar Classic to give Mark Turgeon one final kick in the rear on his way out the door. Both programs feature new coaches this fall, as Kevin Willard (who was a contender for both jobs) looks to avenge Turgeon against Kenny Payne’s Cards.
9. Wake Forest at Wisconsin
Steve Forbes surprisingly had Wake Forest on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament before late-season mishaps sent them to the NIT. He lost most of his production off the ’22 team; but hey, no one expected the players he had last year to pop like they did, so perhaps more Demon Deacon breakouts can be expected. On the other end of the sideline, Greg Gard has a king’s task in replacing Wooden Award runner-up Johnny Davis.
10. Penn State at Clemson
You can tell we’re getting to the end of the line, now. Clemson plays just enough defense to be relevant under Brad Brownell, but watching these two teams on offense proves to be quite the chore. Either way, even beating a mediocre ACC program like Clemson would be massive for Micah Shrewsberry in his second season with the Nittany Lions.
11. Minnesota at Virginia Tech
Minnesota was a pleasant surprise offensively last season in Ben Johnson’s first year with the job. While Virginia Tech was one of the bigger disappointments in the country given the level of talent they brought back. Could be an inflection point for these two programs, who are trending opposite ways, if the Gophers can topple VA Tech on the road.
12. Georgia Tech at Iowa
How is this game ranked so low? With Josh Pastner as coach and their ever-unpredictable results, Georgia Tech is the screwball comedy of the ACC. Heck, Pastner wore a welder’s mask for the last two seasons and won the ACC title in 2021! Plus, Iowa is always one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. It will be far from the best pure basketball game, but Jackets vs. Hawkeyes will be fun, no doubt.
13. Pittsburgh at Northwestern
Appropriately ranked matchup. Pittsburgh is the laughing stock of the conference as of late, though they did add four-star point guard Dior Johnson, their highest-ranked recruit in some time. Northwestern, on the other hand, hasn’t had much success whatsoever since that flukey NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017.
14. Boston College at Nebraska
These programs share two winning conference records in the last 10 seasons, and Boston College hasn’t finished .500 or better in the ACC since the second Bush administration. A brawl between two bottom-feeders to round out these rankings.