LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — One day before the start of the college baseball NCAA Super Regionals and about a dozen weekends before the start of college football, you know what people are talking about in this town:
College basketball, especially with the announcement Thursday of the pairings for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Fourteen games will be played, including one in Louisville and another in Bloomington. I’ve kept my eye on the rim and ranked the quality of each pairing.
1. Michigan at Louisville — The return of Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch with the addition of seven new players has stirred a hurricane of hype around Chris Mack’s U of L program. Juwan Howard replacing John Beilein with the Wolverines will be the most watched coaching transition of the season.
2. Duke at Michigan State — Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas, Jay Williams, Seth Greenberg and a cast of thousands at ESPN will scream this is the most compelling game. They don’t need me to add to the hype — or throw in another ode to Zion Williamson.
3. Virginia at Purdue — It’s not a rematch of the captivating Elite Eight game the programs played at the KFC Yum! Center because Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline and others aren’t walking through that door. But the atmosphere in Mackey Arena will be Elite Eight quality.
4. Ohio State at North Carolina — Keep an eye on the Buckeyes. They’re my pick for the Big Ten’s most improved team. Keep an eye on the Tar Heels. Freshman point guard Cole Anthony will be fun to watch.
5. Florida State at Indiana — Leonard Hamilton always has players and has won his last three games in the challenge. Archie Miller is trying to develop players and is looking for his first challenge win — as the Hoosiers do not draw Duke or UNC for the first time since the 2015 season.
6. Iowa at Syracuse — The Hawkeyes were a likely Top 25 pick until Tyler Cook went pro and Jordan Bohannon injured his hip. Syracuse will play zone.
7. Wisconsin at North Carolina State — Will there be life without Ethan Happ for the Badgers? Kevin Keatts has the Wolfpack trending toward the top of the ACC.
8. Notre Dame at Maryland — Maryland benefited when Anthony Cowan withdrew from the NBA Draft but Mike Brey is trying to regain his mojo in South Bend.
9. Miami at Illinois —The Illini finished tied for 10th last season but the return of four starters, led by dynamic guard Ayo Dosonmu, will move them into the first division.
10. Clemson at Minnesota — Richard Pitino expected to lose Jordan Murphy. He did not expect to lose Amir Coffey. Brad Brownell is also facing a talent drain.
11. Rutgers at Pittsburgh — If Illinois is not the sleeper surprise team in the Big Ten, Rutgers will be. Jeff Capel has upgraded the talent at Pitt.
12. Wake Forest at Penn State — The wise guys are projecting Penn State will be at NCAA Tournament team next season, which means the Nittany Lions will draw 1,800 instead of 1,750.
13. Nebraska at Georgia Tech — They say Fred Hoiberg was the right hire for the Cornhuskers. They’re not saying Josh Pastner was the right hire for the Yellow Jackets.
14. Northwestern at Boston College — Jimmy Christian is a good coach who hasn’t been able to recruit enough top players a BC. Chris Collins is no longer at the top of the list of guys to replace Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.
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