Though the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge began Monday night, its most marquee matchups will be Tuesday and Wednesday nights to avoid “Monday Night Football.” Here’s a quick look at several games matching Big Dance-caliber opponents. Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings entering the week (kenpom.com) are in parentheses.
Iowa (49) at Syracuse (54) 7 p.m. ET Tuesday, ESPN2
Neither Iowa nor Syracuse may turn out to be tournament-caliber when the season is over. Iowa had poor showings in losses to DePaul and San Diego State. The Hawkeyes are 5-2 straight up, 4-3 against the spread. Syracuse is 4-3, but all the wins were at home vs. outmatched opponents. The Orange are 3-4 ATS, with flunked litmus tests missing the spread by double digits vs. Virginia, Oklahoma State and Penn State, the latter two in a tournament at Barclays Center.
Michigan (11) at Louisville (2), 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN
Nobody’s playing better than Michigan out of the gate. The Wolverines are 7-0 straight up, 5-2 ATS. They just won the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, taking out Iowa State, North Carolina and Gonzaga. Louisville is also 7-0 straight up but 3-4 ATS against a soft schedule. Will Michigan have anything left in the tank after its huge holiday week?
Duke (5) at Michigan State (1), 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN
You surely know about Duke’s shocking home loss to Stephen F. Austin as a 28-point favorite. That’s part of a current 1-4 ATS skid. Duke is 7-1 straight up but showing vulnerability post-Zion. Michigan State has earned the respect of Pomeroy’s methodology by going 5-2 straight up against a brutal early schedule. Bettors should know that Sparty is just 2-5 against overly enthusiastic market expectations. State didn’t cover a single game at the Maui Invitational.
Virginia (3) at Purdue (13) 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2
Virginia is 7-0 but 2-5 ATS against high prices. You can tell the market prices on Pomeroy’s projections. But many of his top teams aren’t matching high-margin expectations. Purdue is 4-3 straight up, 3-4 ATS, but with notable losses to Texas, Marquette and Florida State.
Notre Dame (52) at Maryland (8), 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN
Maryland just won the Orlando Invitational, highlighted by an 84-63 rout of Marquette laying -3.5 in Sunday’s final. The Terps are 8-0 straight up, 4-4 ATS. Notre Dame is 6-1 straight up but needed a miracle to survive Toledo in South Bend. The Irish are just 2-4-1 ATS.
Ohio State (4) at North Carolina (12), 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN
Undefeated Ohio State has surged to Final Four-caliber, covering six of seven thus far. Yes, the schedule has been soft, but a 25-point rout of Villanova was legitimate. North Carolina is 6-1 straight up. But the overpriced Tar Heels are 2-5 ATS.
Let’s see who can impress with conference pride on the line. Do your homework so you can impress (and Bet Smart) the rest of the season!