The first two games of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge tip off, and Oregon faces a decent opponent on Monday night.
Best game — Fresno State at Oregon (-12) — 8 ET, PAC12
As you can see, this is not the strongest night for hoops. But both of these teams are at least undefeated, and Oregon has genuinely looked pretty good thus far. Tyler Dorsey and Chris Boucher look like tremendous additions, and the Ducks should be a player at the top of the Pac-12 this season. On the other hand, Fresno is also out to a 5-0 start behind Marvelle Harris’s scoring and Torren Jones play inside. Could they spring the upset in Eugene? Not likely, but it could be fun to see this team get tested.
Second-best game — Illinois State at Kentucky (-20) — 7 ET, ESPN2
This one isn’t necessarily going to be the closest game, but at least it features a couple of solid teams — and in Kentucky’s case, a legitimately terrific one. The Wildcats take on an experienced Redbirds team led by DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Paris Lee in the backcourt. It’ll be interesting to see if those two can cause problems for the Wildcats’ youth. The Wildcats should win by double-digits, but Kentucky also can’t come out flat and expect to beat this team with ease.
Matchup to watch — LSU ‘s Ben Simmons vs. Charleston
Charleston does not have the horses to keep Simmons out of the lane, which means Simmons should have no problems dominating this one and keeping things fun. Having said that, I wouldn’t cinch this up as a win for LSU. The Tigers have certainly lost poor road games under coach Johnny Jones before. This wouldn’t be the first time. Still though, if you need something fun to watch tonight, Simmons is near-appointment television for LSU at this point.
Pick of the night — Wake Forest -6.5 at Rutgers
Look, Rutgers has never been the easiest place to play. They’ve caught teams before, most recently Wisconsin last season. But this Rutgers team just doesn’t have the horses to keep up with what has looked like a particularly strong Wake Forest team early in the season. The Demon Deacons have already beaten better teams in neutral/road games than Rutgers in Bucknell, UCLA and Indiana. Ride with Danny Manning tonight against an overmatched foe.
- The other Big Ten-ACC Challenge game beyond Wake/Rutgers is Clemson traveling to Minnesota. That one could go either way.
- Indiana will look to get right back on track against Alcorn State in Bloomington. Shouldn’t be an issue.