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Maryland Vs. Penn State: ACC/Big Ten Challenge Picks

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge got underway on Tuesday night in Minneapolis where Virginia upset No. 17 Minnesota at the Barn 87-79. The ACC now leads the challenge 1-0 but the contest gets underway fully tonight. Here's a preview and some picks.

Tuesday Games

Iowa at Wake Forest, 7:00 P.M. on ESPNU

Tuesday night's action will begin with a matchup of two struggling teams in the early going. Both the Demon Deacons and Hawkeyes are 3-3 with all six combined losses coming to non-BCS school opponents. Iowa has already dropped contests against San Diego State, Xavier and Long Beach State while Wake Forest has fallen to Stetson, Virginia Commonwealth and Winthrop. New Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will likely look to push the pace, but expect Wake Forest to come away with this one.

Georgia Tech at Northwestern, 7:00 P.M. on ESPN2

The Yellow Jackets and Wildcats hook up in an intriguing lower card game early on Tuesday. Georgia Tech is 4-2 with losses to Kennesaw State and Syracuse already, however, the Jackets did lose to the Orange by only four. Northestern has been scoring the basketball and playing good defense, though, and are 4-0 in the early going. Expect the 'cats, led by John Shurna to get the Big Ten on the board in this one.

No. 2 Ohio State at Florida State, 7:30 on ESPN

The Challenge's big early game will feature a very potent Ohio State squad against an upstart Florida State team in Tallahassee. The Seminoles are 5-1 and lost their last game to No. 14 while the Buckeyes are undefeated at 5-0 including a big win over that same Florida team. Look for Ohio State to win this one in fairly convincing fashion. The 'Noles are OK, but they simply don't have the fire power to keep up the the Bucks.

Michigan at Clemson, 9:00 P.M. on ESPN2

A young Michigan squad faces a tough test on the road at Clemson in this one. The Tigers have opened strong at 5-1 while Michigan has limped to a 3-2 record in the early going. The young Wolverines, led by Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway Jr. will play tough, but Littlejohn Coliseum might be a bridge to far here. We're going with Clemson in this one.

North Carolina at No. 21 Illinois, 9:30 P.M. on ESPN

The big matchup of Tuesday evening will see the struggling Tar Heels head to Champaign. North Carolina dropped a pair of decisions in Puerto Rico over Thanksgiving to Minnesota and Vanderbilt, however, led by Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes, the Heels remain dangerous. Illinois should be ready for the challenge, however, with returning stars Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale to rely on. In a rematch of the 2005 national championship game, look for the Fighting Illini to prevail.

Wednesday Games

North Carolina State at Wisconsin, 7:15 P.M. on ESPN2

Bo Ryan's Badgers are off to an uncharacteristically slow start at 4-2 with losses to Notre Dame and UNLV, but the Wolfpack hasn't really beaten much of anyone in compiling a 4-1 record thus far. Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor are talented an experienced for Wisconsin and should lead Bucky home with a win.

Indiana at Boston College, 7:15 P.M. on ESPNU

The Hoosiers are off to a deceptively hot start at 6-0 so far this season. They haven't really beaten much of anyone so far and got a big scare from Evansville at home a couple weeks ago. Boston College hasn't been very inspiring, either, at 4-2. The Eagles dropped an embarrassing game to Yale at home, however, they have managed Texas A&M and California thus far and appear to be more battle tested, thus, we're going with BC in this one.

No. 18 Purdue at Virginia Tech, 7:30 P.M. on ESPN

Despite high expectations, the Hokies are off to a pedestrian start so far in 2010-2011 at 4-2. Purdue, playing the entire season without Robbie Hummel, is off to a 5-1 start but is coming off a loss against Richmond. Expect both teams to bring their A-games on Wednesday night with the Boilermakers led by E'Twaun Moore gutting out a road W.

Maryland at Penn State, 9:15 P.M. on ESPN2

Maryland had a rough go of things in New York for the CvC Classic, dropping games to Pitt and Illinois while Penn State has seen mixed results on its way to 5-1. Two key factors in this game will be Maryland's free throw and three-point shooting. The Terrapins are only hitting 28% from deep and watched terrible shooting from the stripe doom them at Madison Square Garden. With the game in Happy Valley, Penn State is our narrow bet to win its fourth straight Challenge game.

No. 6 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke, 9:30 P.M. on ESPN

We were a Spartan victory against Butler away from seeing this game in the championship game of the NCAA Tournament last year and now the Blue Devils finally get their shot at Tom Izzo's squad. Sparty looked like a work in progress at the Maui Invitational, struggling to overcome D-2 Chaminade and dropping a tight game to Connecticut. With Coach K's team humming already with a win over No. 4 Kansas State in its pocket already, the Blue Devils will likely close the Challenge with a win for the ACC.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.