ACC Big Ten Challenge Preview

BIG TEN-ACC CHALLENGE WILL SHOWCASE SOME OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL'S BEST

The annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge is always a treat for college basketball fans and a big money-making opportunity for sports bettors. There's a lot of buzz about this year's event because superpowers will collide Tuesday when North Carolina visits Indiana, and Wednesday when Ohio State visits Duke.

Those will be Final Four caliber matchups...and potential National Championship previews. Don't forget though that the Big Ten has a lot of depth this season. In fact, fully SEVEN teams from the Big Ten and ACC are currently in the top 20 of the AP college basketball rankings.

AP TOP 25
1...Indiana
3...Ohio State
4...Michigan
5...Duke
9...North Carolina
15..Michigan State
16...NC State

A few more TV teams from this week show up in the "also receiving votes" section.

26...Minnesota
27...Wisconsin
32...Florida State
45...Maryland

With those rankings in mind, let's check out the schedule over the next few nights. Games are listed in rotation order...

MINNESOTA (26) at FLORIDA STATE (32) Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The Gophers just went 2-1 in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, losing to powerful Duke but knocking off Memphis and Stanford. Two days off still leaves this as the fourth game in six days away from home. How much should sports bettors account for fatigue in this tough road game against the Seminoles?

IOWA at VIRGINIA TECH Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPNU
Hey, even the lesser teams in these conferences get to participate. Some analysts believe the softest spots for finding market value are in these lesser matchups. Oddsmakers have seen quite a big of Duke and Indiana so far. Think they're paying as much attention to these two teams?

NC STATE (16) at MICHIGAN (4) Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
The first of the "dream" matchups in this year's set-up...and one that ESPN has been advertising all weekend long during its football coverage. Is Michigan really a top four caliber team this year? Can't argue with wins over Pittsburgh (67-62) and Kansas State (71-57) in Madison Square Garden last week. State was runner up in the recent Puerto Rico tipoff...but the loss was by 20 points to Oklahoma State. Then a sandwich spot on the schedule almost nailed them Saturday Night when the Wolfpack survived NC Asheville 82-80. We've talked to some sharps who believe at least one of these teams is very overrated by the polls.

NEBRASKA at WAKE FOREST Tuesday at 9:15 p.m. on ESPNU
Only a game sports bettors could love, relegated to ESPNU while most of the country hangs on every play in North Carolina-Indiana.

MARYLAND (45) at NORTHWESTERN Tuesday at 9:15 p.m. on ESPN2
The Terps are undefeated since opening with a tough three-point loss to powerful Kentucky on a neutral floor in Brooklyn. Are they a sleeper team in the ACC this season? An interesting test for them on the road in Evanston.

NORTH CAROLINA (9) at INDIANA (1) Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
The marquee value for this game took a bit of a hit when North Carolina lost badly to Butler last week in Hawaii. They had no trouble with lesser lights Mississippi State and Chaminade. But, a smart team that knew what it was doing beat them up pretty bad. Now...the Heels have to step up in class against a better team from the Hoosier state...and they have to do that in Bloomington! Indiana may not be quite as good as its hype yet based on its performances vs. Georgia and Georgetown last week in neutral site tournament action. They were sluggish vs. Georgia, and lucky to survive G-town in a game they won in overtime. This is a home game though...and you know a boisterous home crowd is going to be all over Dick Vitale!

VIRGINIA at WISCONSIN (27) Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2
It was expected before the season started that Wisconsin would be ranked coming into this game. They've fallen out of the top 25 because of losses to Florida (74-56 on the road) and Creighton (84-74 in Las Vegas). The Badgers were one of many early season examples of teams not living up to media hype, and therefore not living up to market expectations vs. their toughest competition.

PURDUE at CLEMSON Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. on ESPNU
This one will mostly be off the radar in early Wednesday action...which may create an opportunity for you if you've studied these teams closely.

MICHIGAN STATE (15) at MIAMI OF FLORIDA Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Spartans may still be recovering from accumulating early season frequent flyer miles. They opened the season with a split vs. Connecticut (a loss in Germany) and Kansas (a big win in Atlanta). Subsequent home games saw them barely survive Boise State (74-70) and Louisiana-Lafayette (63-60). The team that beat Kansas should coast. The team that eked out a home win over Lafayette may look very sluggish after another long plane trip.

GEORGIA TECH at ILLINOIS Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The Illini looked outstanding in winning the Maui tournament...dominating Butler the night after the Bulldogs had upset Carolina. But, the first game back was just a one-point win over Gardner-Webb! Kids aren't used to travel...and some of these "no-name" teams can really play this year. You'd expect the Illini to have their heads on straight again after the scare.

BOSTON COLLEGE at PENN STATE Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. on ESPNU
Let's move to the grand finale instead of wasting time on a game you're not going to watch anyway...

OHIO STATE at DUKE Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
Duke has played extremely well against top competition this year...knocking off Louisville a few nights ago in the Bahamas...on the heels of a well-played win over Kentucky. You know Coach K wants to make a case for a #1 ranking with a home win over the Buckeyes. That would create a very strong resume to compare to Indiana if the Hoosiers don't dominate Carolina Tuesday Night. Ohio State isn't battle tested yet...playing one of the softer opening slates amongst the nation's powers this month. Will they get a quick wake-up call? Or, have they been lying in wait while planning to make a statement in Durham?

If you're only interested in North Carolina-Indiana on Tuesday or Ohio State-Duke on Wednesday , or if you're a true hophead who wants to play the best plays on the board this week and all through the basketball season, link up with JIM HURLEY right now for hoops service. You can take care of business right here at the website with your credit card. Daily plays go up several hours before first tip...and we have great rates on seasonal packages if you're ready to commit now. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on COMBINATION packages with football...that would include this week's conference championship games...all the college bowls...and the NFL through the Super Bowl.

This is a great week to get on board. You already know about the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Look at what's on tap in football!

Thursday: New Orleans at Atlanta in a huge NFL game, plus Louisville at Rutgers will decide the Big East champion!

Friday: Championship games in the MAC (Northern Illinois vs. Kent State in a battle of ranked teams) and Pac 12 (UCLA at Stanford)!

Saturday: How about #2 Alabama vs. #3 Georgia in Atlanta for the SEC Championship and a berth against Notre Dame in the BCS title tilt?!

On the hardwood or on the gridiron...you're going to get the best plays on the board from JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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