This year, the Big Ten/ACC challenge was a success (for the Big Ten). There were a lot of great games played, but I want to highlight some of the top games from this year’s challenge.
Pittsburgh at Indiana
I think every Hoosier was happy with how this one turned out. Indiana defeated Pitt by a score of 81-69 with great production from its bench—namely, Emmitt Holt. The freshman only played 19 minutes, but he was the star of the Hoosiers’ offense, scoring 15 points while shooting a clean 6-6 from the field. Not only did Holt score, he also added five rebounds and two blocks. He showed incredible strength and energy throughout the game and provided the fans a glimpse of what is to come for the duration of the season. Senior Collin Hartman added to the Hoosier victory by showing new life. He played 24 minutes off the bench and provided seven points and one three-pointer while grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. It was great to see Hartman perform well and show that he is capable of providing solid production off the bench this season.
Ohio State at Louisville
The Ohio State offense struggled to get past the Cardinal’s electric defense. Entering the game, the Buckeyes were averaging 41 PPG in the paint, and Louisville held them to just 18. It’s also worth noting that Ohio State scored just 18 points in the first half, the lowest of any half it has played this season, while shooting just 23-percent from the field. Heading into Louisville, Ohio State point guard Shannon Scott was leading the nation with 10.4 assists-per-game. But against the Cardinals? Scott was shut-out with zero assists. It’s no mystery that the Cardinals have one of the best defenses in college basketball, and they proved it once again in a tough match-up against No. 14 OSU. Star freshman D’Angelo Russell continued his great season, scoring 17 points while recording 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals.
Michigan State at Notre Dame
I knew Michigan State would lose this game. The Spartans were having a tough season already, and it didn’t help that they had to play a primetime game in the Joyce Center at Notre Dame. Seating just over 9,000 people, it is one of the toughest venues to play in college basketball because of the crowd. But Notre Dame didn’t just win because of home-court advantage; the Fighting Irish have one of the best backcourts in the nation, according to head coach Mike Brey. Jerian Grant continued his comeback season with a career-high 27 points to go along with six assists and three steals, while Demetrius Jackson added a career high 22 points. Despite getting outrebounded by a whopping 43-26, Notre Dame proved to be too much in the end and continued its great season.
Duke at Wisconsin
This was projected to be one of the best games of the year, and that is what everyone saw. First, let’s talk about the Jahlil Okafor-Frank Kaminsky match-up. These two big men are among the best in the country, and they showed us why in this game. For the first bucket of the game, Okafor showed his strength by backing Kaminsky up to the basket for an easy bucket, but Kaminsky was quick to fire back, using his perimeter game to knock down two consecutive three-point shots. In the end, Kaminsky put up 17 points and nine rebounds, but Jahlil Okafor continued to be one of the most efficient scorers in the nation shooting 6-8 from the field with 13 points. Now, let’s talk Tyus Jones. The freshman point guard for Duke seems to excel in the spotlight. He put up 22 points with six rebounds, four assists and just one turnover. He did that shooting 7-11 from the field. Also, he has 46 assists and just eight turnovers the whole year. He is proving to be a vital key for the Blue Devils and is impressing NBA scouts everywhere. While these players did great individually, the Duke team as a whole won the game. They shot an unbelievable 65-percent from the field and 58-percent from three. Almost any team that shoots that well is guaranteed to win.
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