Big Ten - ACC Challenge day one predictions

Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Day one of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge is loaded with five ranked teams taking the floor, including No. 1 Indiana and No. 3 Michigan.

Minnesota at Florida State, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN2)

Following a fifth-place finish in the Battle 4 Atlantis where their only loss was to tournament champion Duke, the Golden Gophers find themselves nationally ranked for the first time in almost two years. Florida State has rebounded from its embarrassing season-opening loss to South Alabama by winning four straight. None of those wins, however, have done as much to restore their preseason reputation as a win over Tubby Smith's team would.

PREDICTION: Minnesota by 5

Iowa at Virginia Tech, 7:15 (ESPNU)

The Hokies are 5-0 for the first time since 1984-85, but haven't played anyone of note. That changes tonight against a Hawkeye team whose only loss is to undefeated Wichita State in the championship game of the Cancun Challenge. Tech's Erick Green currently leads the ACC in scoring at 24.4 ppg, but he hasn't faced a frontline like the one headed by Iowa's Aaron White and Adam Woodbury.

PREDICTION: Iowa by 3

NC State at Michigan, 7:30 (ESPN)

An extremely interesting matchup of two of the more "really?" trendy top ten picks of the preseason. The third-ranked Wolverines have lived up to their summer billing thus far, winning their first five games by an average of 24.8 points. NC State, meanwhile, has been blown out by Oklahoma State and nearly upset by UNC Asheville in its last two outings. Rumors of in-house jealousy resulting in a lack of team chemistry are already swirling around Raleigh, so an upset win on the road over a top five opponent could work wonders for the Wolfpack. It's just hard to see it happening with the respective products the two teams have put on the floor so far this season.

PREDICTION: Michigan by 7

Maryland at Northwestern, 9:15 (ESPN2)

It's not likely to warrant a great deal of attention with Indiana/North Carolina going on at the same time, but this is a much better matchup than most people thought it would be just a few weeks ago. Northwestern, which has famously never been to the NCAA Tournament, is 6-0 and allowing fewer points (53.3 per game) than any other team in the Big Ten. Maryland's only loss is to Kentucky, but their youth will be put to the test against the Wildcats' Princeton offense, which requires 40 minutes of focus. Northwestern doesn't have much of an answer for Alex Len inside, which means Drew Crawford is going to have to be even more of an offensive star than usual in order for the Cats to keep pace.

PREDICTION: Maryland by 2

Nebraska at Wake Forest, 9:15 (ESPNU)

The night's only real "meh" game features a pair of teams without a win over a fellow Big Six conference opponent. Nebraska is 4-1 under first-year head coach Tim Miles, but the Cornhuskers are only outscoring their opponents by 3.2 points per game. Wake Forest suffered back-to-back losses to UConn and Iona (by 26) in the Paradise Jam, but has since won games over Mercer (74-71) and William & Mary (63-57). Don't worry too much about flipping over from the other two games.

PREDICTION: Nebraska by 1

North Carolina at Indiana, 9:30 (ESPN)

The headline game of night one features two of the sport's ultimate bluebloods. Carolina dropped out of the top ten following its Maui Invitational semifinal loss to Butler and will be playing without injured guard P.J. Hairston, but James Michael McAdoo and company are still the most talented group No. 1 Indiana has faced. All signs point to this being as fast-paced of a game as we've seen all season. The Hoosiers are No. 1 in the country in adjusted offense and both teams rank in the top ten nationally in points per game. The major question mark surrounding IU all summer was whether or not they would be able to defend well enough to win a national title. This is a great early opportunity to silence the folks who think they can't.

PREDICTION: Indiana by 8

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