Vitale: ACC preview questions

Vitale: Big Ten preview questions

Vitale: All-Underrated team

Vitale: 2003-04 college-hoop preseason index

Dick Vitale Archive

  Vitale Home     College Basketball     ESPN.com  

ACC/Big Ten Challenge a nice change of pace


Dec. 1, 2003
I really like the concept of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It comes at a time when many early-season nonconference matchups are Cupcake City blowouts. Instead of seeing games where teams are blitzed by 40 or 50 points, you see marquee matchups.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Northwestern-Florida St.
ESPN2 | 7 p.m.

Indiana-Wake Forest
ESPN | 7 p.m.

N.C. State-Michigan
ESPN2 | 7:30 p.m.

Illinois-North Carolina
ESPN | 9 p.m.

ESPN2 | 9:30 p.m.

Georgia Tech-Ohio State
ESPN | 7 p.m.

ESPN2 | 7:30 p.m.

Duke-Michigan State
ESPN, 9 p.m. ET

ESPN2 | 9:30 p.m.

I can't wait to see Illinois and North Carolina on Tuesday night (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET). Two of the nation's premier point guards, Raymond Felton of the Tar Heels and Dee Brown of the Illini, will go at it.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams has the opportunity to get a true evaluation of how good his starting five is. He'll learn about the true strengths and weaknesses of his club by playing a quality opponent. North Carolina has something to prove after being blown out by Illinois last season.

Michigan State will host Duke in the Izzone on Wednesday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET). The Spartans have one of the toughest nonconference schedules ever (Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Oklahoma and Syracuse).

There should be some great guard play when the Dukies and Spartans meet.

This will be interesting because it gives the Blue Devils another opportunity on the road. Coach Mike Krzyzewski will see how his team responds to adversity after falling to Purdue in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout.

Duke will love the challenge. It will be a test of the team's mental toughness as it gets ready for ACC play. Games like this mean a lot.

N.C. State plays at Michigan on Tuesday (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.). Coach Tommy Amaker's Wolverines will try to make a statement at home.

Julius Hodge and Co. can create many problems, yet people don't talk that much about the Wolfpack. This figures to be an intriguing contest.

The return of Ilian Evtimov from injury gives N.C. State coach Herb Sendek another scoring threat, while Scooter Sherrill has impressed early.

Maryland hosts Wisconsin on Tuesday in another interesting battle (ESPN2, 9:30 p.m.). Coach Gary Williams will learn more about his young Terps as they face an experienced, disciplined team like Bo Ryan's Badgers. Purdue's Devin Harris and Co. would love to get more respect and a big-time W here!

Indiana plays at Wake Forest in another showdown Tuesday (ESPN, 7 p.m.). Indian guard Bracey Wright and Co. are coming off a big win over Xavier in overtime at the Wooden Tradition.

Coach Skip Prosser's Wake Forest cub has lots of balance, and Eric Williams could be tough on the Hoosiers inside.

We will also see how Georgia Tech and Purdue perform following tremendous tournament efforts.

Georgia Tech won the Preseason NIT championship, defeating top-ranked UConn in the semifinals. Purdue won the Great Alaska Shootout with a big upset over Duke in the title game.

In the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday, Tech has a road test against Ohio State (ESPN, 7 p.m.), while coach Gene Keady and Purdue host Clemson and coach Oliver Purnell (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.).

These are quality matchups. I'd love to see more of these showdowns taking place early in the season. It's healthy for the game -- players love it and fans love it. And there's a sense of pride with conference superiority on the line in the short run.

Of course, the coaches might not love it. These are not Cupcake City games, and when I was on the sidelines, I preferred to have that Hostess Classic instead of a test.

Click here to send a question for Dick Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories