Big Ten/ACC Challenge Reaction: ACC Goes 4-2 On Day One

The ACC got the hot start in this year’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge with four wins and two losses in the front end of the event. Here are some notes and reactions to Tuesday’s six games.

Syracuse 69, Indiana 52
Photo: Mark Konezny/USA Today Sports
Photo: Mark Konezny/USA Today Sports

Just like in last year’s Sweet 16, Indiana had no answer to Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. The Hoosiers were hanging with the Orange and led late in the first half, but the Orange took a four-point lead into halftime and never looked back.

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse’s freshman point guard, was phenomenal with 17 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. In his last four games — all of which were against schools from power-six conferences — he is averaging 17 points, 6.5 assists, and four steals. If he continues playing at this level, Syracuse will have no problem challenging for the ACC title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

On the other end, Indiana still has work to do before it is considered a Top 25 team. The Hoosiers are now 0-2 against ranked competition, and they looked completely out of their league in the second half against Syracuse.

Arizona State transfer Evan Gordon is still struggling in his transition to Indiana, and no one but sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell can make shots from the outside.

 

Georgia Tech 67, Illinois 64

Although Georgia Tech is far from a great team, a road win on Tuesday for Illinois still would have looked nice on its resume. The Fighting Illini took a 12-point lead into the final 10 minutes, but the Yellow Jackets stormed back to take this one by three.

This was a huge win for Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory, and arguably the best home win in his tenure at the school.

Robert Carter Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt each had huge games for the Yellow Jackets with 21 and 20 points, respectively. These two sophomores have a bright future ahead of them and could lead Georgia Tech back to the NCAA Tournament in the near future.

Despite the loss, the good news for Illinois is that Drake transfer Rayvonte Rice is proving he can score against tougher competition. The redshirt junior dropped 24 points on Tuesday and will be a lot to handle for every opponent this season.

 

Pittsburgh 78, Penn State 69

This game played out basically as expected.

Penn State gave Pittsburgh a really good fight into the final minutes, but Penn State’s one-man show of Tim Frazier proved to be too little to take down Pittsburgh on the road.

That being said, Frazier was fantastic with 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting, and he did get help from D.J. Newbill, who scored 18 points.

However, the Nittany Lions’ frontcourt combined for only 14 points and 12 rebounds, and that is going to be a theme all season long as they go up against teams with bigger front lines.

Talib Zanna had another very good outing for Pittsburgh with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks, and Lamar Patterson had a strong, all-around game with 16 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.

 

Duke 79, Michigan 69

Michigan’s early season struggles continued as it played from behind for the entire game against Duke.

Sophomore Caris LeVert had a great game with 24 points and Mitch McGary posted a double-double, but Glenn Robinson III is still struggling in his increased role and Nik Stauskas had an off night.

Also, freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr. posted only seven points, one assist, and three turnovers. (It’s time for him to take lessons from Ennis.)

Jabari Parker had an “off” night but still scored 15 points and six rebounds for Duke while shooting 50% from the field.

Quinn Cook continued his fabulous season with 24 points, nine assists, and only two turnovers.

 

Iowa 98, Notre Dame 93

In Tuesday’s most thrilling Big Ten/ACC Challenge game, Iowa held off Notre Dame at home for its biggest win so far in a season filled with high expectations.

The Hawkeyes’ depth continued to shine as five players scored in double figures and nine received more than 10 minutes of playing time.

Not only is this Iowa team good, but it is fun to watch. Tuesday marked the fifth time this season the Hawkeyes have scored more than 85 points.

Despite using only a seven-man rotation, Notre Dame kept up with Iowa until the very end.

Garrick Sherman posted a career-high 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting, and Eric Atkins recorded 21 points.

Jerian Grant had his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 assists.

The Fighting Irish should finish in the top half of the ACC, but their only remaining chance for a non-conference, Top-25 win is against Iowa State on Dec. 21.

 

Minnesota 71, Florida State 61

For the most part, Florida State was awful on Tuesday night, but the Seminoles managed to keep within two possessions into the final minute. Still, they had stretches when they looked like a complete mess and in total committed 17 turnovers.

Ian Miller had another solid outing with 16 points and seven assists, although he turned over the ball four times, and 7’3″ sophomore Boris Bojanovsky scored in double figures for the second straight game. During this stretch, Bojanovsky is 7-of-7 from the field.

Minnesota’s backcourt once again led the way with Andre Hollins’ 21 points, Austin Hollins’ 16 points, and Deandre Mathieu’s seven points and four assists, including a key bucket with 1:53 remaining.

 

What to look forward to on Wednesday:

Maryland @ Ohio State, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

Wisconsin @ Virginia, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Northwestern @ NC State, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU

North Carolina @ Michigan State, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

Boston College @ Purdue, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Miami (FL) @ Nebraska, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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