3 Things To Watch For In ACC-Big 10 Challenge

By Joe Atmonavage
ACC-Big 10 Challenge
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC-Big 10 Challenge is entering its 15th year this year and this year will be sure to provide an exciting slate of games like in year’s past. Here are three things (in no particular order) you should watch for as the action kicks off Tuesday:

1. The pace of the VirginiaWisconsin game

These two teams play as slow as any teams in the country. They always try and make their opponents play slower and that alone will make this game even more tortoiselike.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has been doing it for years and Virginia coach Tony Bennett has brought his style to the ACC over the last couple of years. Both these teams love to play in the halfcourt, grind out the shot clock, and they do not care if they only score 50 points because they are going to hold you to less then that.

This game probably will not be the top story on SportsCenter or even have a combined scored of over 100, but it will be a slow pace of who can execute offensively best and make the fewest mistakes. The excitement will not be over the top, but it will be a close game between two fundamentally sound and well-coached teams.

First one to 50 wins!

2. Does Jabari Parker continue to shine?

Parker has already had plenty of chances to shine on national television, which he has each and every time. The last freshman that was this good this early was Kevin Durant at Texas. Parker has looked like a pro since game one against Kansas.

However, all freshmen, no matter how good, always seem to have a few slip ups throughout the season. He was not as efficient as usual in Duke’s loss to Arizona this weekend scoring 19 points on 21 shots, but he did not get much help. It will be interesting to see how he responds to his “worst” game of his career. Michigan does not have anyone who can really defend Parker, however, Michigan is extremely big down low so it will be interesting to see how parker handles defending in the post most of the game, especially if Mitch McGary is playing and healthy.

3. Marcus Paige vs. Keith Appling

Paige and Appling are two of the best point guards in the country and will face-off Wednesday when the North Carolina Tar Heels travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State.

Over the last three games, Paige has been averaging 23.7 points per game and was one of the hottest players in the country before scoring only 13 points in tonight’s loss to UAB. However, he did pour in 32 points against Russ Smith and then-No. 3 Louisville when the Tar Heels upset them last weekend.

Appling is as solid as they come in college basketball and often gets overlooked by teammate Gary Harris. Appling is averaging 16.9 points per game along with 5.6 assists. He is shooting 58.6 percent from the field, which is super effective for a guard. He is the driving force behind the Spartan’s fastbreak attack and runs Tom Izzo’s team to near perfection.

It is going to fun watching these two guards go at each other in a big-time matchup like this one. Paige will have another chance to knock off a top team with a big game while Appling can continue to be the steady force for the number one team in the nation and get a crucial home win over Paige’s Tar Heels.

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