Because a list is never complete unless it is arbitrarily ranked with subjective criteria.
Yesterday we learned that the Iowa Hawkeyes will be taking a trek to central New York this winter for the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, along with the rest of the event matchups. Duke/Michigan State and Virginia/Purdue headline the event as 2019 Elite Eight rematches while other games yield interesting results. (and some not so interesting).
As no list would be complete without rankings, we went ahead and subjectively ranked the games with no set criteria. This is neither an art or a science.
1. Duke at Michigan State
Duke and Michigan State take the top spot for obvious reasons. While it won’t be an authentic rematch from the 2019 Elite Eight, there are a few holdovers from that game on both sides. Tre Jones is the biggest returnee for the Blue Devils and Javin DeLaurier is back after getting dunked on by Matt McQuaid.
Jack White and Alex O’Connel are also back after combing for a grand total of zero points in that game.
On the other side, Cassius Winston returns and is the likely frontrunner for the Naismith award in 2019-20. Joshua Langford is back from injury and key contributors Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry round out a solid cast. The Breslin Center will be rocking for this one.
2. Virginia at Purdue
Either this is just pure happenstance or the folks in charge of scheduling this event know exactly what they’re doing. Like the Duke and MSU rosters, UVA and Purdue have had some attrition in the form of star players as Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter have departed for the pros while the Boilermakers lose three startes in Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline and Grady Eifert.
Both teams return two starters each and a formidable bench. The Kihei Clark to Mamadi Diakite highlight cannot be shown enough in this matchup and by that I mean any amount of times over one will be more annoying than the mention of pack line defense.
3. Ohio State at North Carolina
Ohio State could have some top-25 staying power in 2019-20 as both Kaleb and Andre Wesson are back in the fold while Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington Jr. and Kyle Young look to take on larger roles. Chris Holtmann brings in a solid recruiting class that could vie for PT right away.
Roy Williams will undergo a near complete roster overhaul but the Heels do return Leaky Black and Garrison Brooks. Freshmen phenoms Cole Anthony and Armando Bacot will make names for themselves. The Kaleb Wesson and Garrison Brooks matchup will be intriguing.
This is also going to make for great content for Titus and Tate over at The Ringer/One Shining Podcast.
4. Michigan at Louisville
This game loses some luster with John Beilein departing for the NBA, but the Juwan Howard hire will draw in casual observers while people will still think Zavier Simpson’s running hook shot is cool for some reason.
On the other side, Chris Mack might have his best college team ever as Jordan Nwora is back alongside Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, Steve Enoch and Malik Williams. The Cards have a solid recruiting class coming in to boot. The hype around Louisville will be the highest its been since Rick Pitino was unaware of what was going on at his program. What year was that again?
5. Notre Dame at Maryland
The Terps only lose Bruno Fernando and received big news when Anthony Cowan decided to return to College Park. Mark Turgeon has a top ten team in the country right now with Jalen Smith and Eric Ayala in the mix.
I think Notre Dame might sneak up on people this year. DJ Harvey transferred to Vanderbilt, but everyone else is back for Mike Brey next season. Notre Dame was plagued by injury in 2018-19 and its freshmen Nate Laszewski, Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin saw playing time they otherwise wouldn’t have. That can force players to mature at a faster clip. TJ Gibbs and John Mooney will be two of the better players in the ACC and if Rex Pflueger returns to pre-injury form the Irish are looking dangerous.
6. Iowa at Syracuse
Keeley said it best.
Iowa vs. Syracuse, the battle to determine New York's College Team once and for all. https://t.co/sENlut9S98— Sean Keeley (@SeanKeeleyIsMe) June 6, 2019
7. Florida State at Indiana
Florida State loses a lot but then again Leonard Hamilton will probably roll out a bunch of long, athletic dudes that has his 2019-20 squad looking like every other squad he’s ever coached at FSU. Indiana loses Romeo Langford but returns other key guys. Assembly Hall is Assembly Hall.
8. Wisconsin at NC State
No more Ethan Happ but the over/under on the amount of charges Buzz Cut Brad will take in this game is already set at 4.5.
9. Miami at Illinois
We’re really reaching here. But Chris Lykes is must-see television anytime he’s out on the court. That’s enough to keep this game above some of the others.
10. Rutgers at Pitt
Ten spot because of Rutgers. Pitt at least has some returning guys and solid recruits that could keep it out of the ACC basement this season.
11. Clemson at Minnesota
Clemson lost a lot of dudes off of an NIT team. Minnesota is usually an NIT team. When Minnesota is not an NIT team the Gophers lose in the NCAA Tournament first round like nobody’s business. Mark Coyle thinks it’s a special place.
12. Nebraska at Georgia Tech
Fred Hoiberg is in his first year at Nebraska. Josh Pastner might be in his last at Georgia Tech.
13. Wake Forest at Penn State
Penn State has a basketball team?
14. Northwestern at Boston College