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Ranking the 2021 ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchups

We’re back to rank more things on the internet.

Indiana v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

On Monday we learned that the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team would host the Indiana Hoosiers this season as the matchups to the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge were revealed. It will mark the second time these two squads have met in the event and seventh meeting overall. Syracuse hosted the Hoosiers back in 2013 in the same event.

With that in mind, where does the Syracuse vs. Indiana matchup rank against some of the other games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge? Given that everybody else on the internet is too cowardly to rank things, we figured we would take a brave step forward and tackle that tall order.

Let’s dive into the rankings.

1. Indiana at Syracuse

Just kidding.

For real now.

Ohio State v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

1. Duke at Ohio State

Two top ten teams will clash as Coach K’s farewell tour will include a stop at The Schott. The Blue Devils are 19-3 all-time in the event, but Coach K’s 20th win in the series will be challenging as the Buckeyes brings back Justice Sueing, Kyle Young and Justin Ahrens. Getting EJ Liddell to return would add juice to this matchup.

Duke, meanwhile, brings back Wendell Moore, Mark Williams and Joey Baker and adds top recruits Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels. This should be the headliner of the event.

North Carolina v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

2. Michigan at North Carolina

This one isn’t exactly an undercard as two powers in the sport will meet, where two relatively green head coaches have taken over for prominent predecessors. Juwan Howard hasn’t missed a step in replacing John Beilein in his first two years at Michigan. Hubert Davis will begin his first season as head coach of North Carolina.

Armando Bacot is the last remaining big man at Carolina. If Hunter Dickinson returns for the Wolverines we could have a battle down low.

3. Florida State at Purdue

Purdue brings back its top eight scorers. The Boilermakers are legitimate Big Ten and National Championship contenders with Trevion Williams returning to school. Florida State lost Scottie Barnes, MJ Walker and Balsa Koprivica but expect the athleticism and depth to remain as RayQuan Evans, Anthony Polite and Malik Osborne return along with three top 60 recruits.

4. Virginia Tech at Maryland

People are sleeping on Virginia Tech as the Hokies bring back an ACC Player of the Year candidate in Keve Aluma. Nahiem Alleyne, Tyrece Radford and Justyn Mutts are all back and they’ll be joined by Wofford transfer Storm Murphy, whose name kind of sounds like that of an X-Men. That can only mean he’s a certified bucket.

Maryland will boast a top backcourt as Fatts Russell has transferred in from Rhode Island and Eric Ayala will add a veteran presence in his senior season. We should have a really good guard matchup in College Park.

Hopefully Mike Young will bring his popcorn.

Indiana v Syracuse Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

5. Indiana at Syracuse

Both Buddy Boeheim and Trayce Jackson-Davis could enter the college basketball season in the Player of the Year discussion. These two teams have history and Syracuse owns a 5-1 edge in the series. But the Hoosiers have the most important win, a 1987 National Championship game you likely won’t want to remember unless you work at Homefield or something lame like that.

The Orange will face a familiar foe in this meeting as Pittsburgh transfer Xavier Johnson is now a Hoosier. Indiana struggled to shoot it last year but added Northwestern sharpshooter Miller Kopp. That will create intrigue against the 2-3 zone.

Both teams will likely enter the season just outside the top 25.

6. Louisville at Michigan State

These two traditional powers are looking to get back on track in 2021-22. Louisville just missed the field of 68 last season and Michigan State was bounced in the First Four against UCLA.

I won’t even pretend to know who Michigan State has on its roster other than Joey Hauser but the experts say they’ll be a top 25 team. That’s good enough for me.

7. Iowa at Virginia

Jordan Bohannon is back for his tenth year at Iowa. Kihei Clarke is back for his eighth year at Virginia.

This could be a guard heavy matchup for two teams looking to replace star front-court players. First to 50 wins.

8. Notre Dame at Illinois

Notre Dame will be much improved from a season ago. The Irish will have one of the best players in the ACC in Prentiss Hubb. Illinois looks to reboot as Kofi Cockburn, Ayo Donsumu, Adam Miller and Giorgi Bezhanishvili are all gone. But Trent Frazier is back alongside playmaker Andre Curbelo. The guard matchup is enough to keep this game above the others.

9. Wisconsin at Georgia Tech

Similar to Bohannon, Brad Davison is back for his tenth season of Big Ten basketball. He will attempt to take five charges against Jordan Usher.

Josh Pastner will probably do or say something entertaining after the game.

Rutgers v Clemson Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

10. Clemson at Rutgers

We can’t be 100 percent sure the schedule makers put these two squads up against each other because they played each other in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, but we can be sure that the game will be less eventful this time around.

Ron Harper Jr. should roll Clemson in a non-competitive defensive game.

11. Nebraska at NC State

Both teams return much of their production from underwhelming 2020-21 teams. Nebraska returns four starters and adds a top 25 recruit in Trey McGowens’s younger brother, Bryce. This game should be competitive despite being lower on the rankings list.

12. Boston College vs. Nobody

Boston College was rightfully left out of this event and BC vs. nobody will still be better than the games listed below.

13. Miami at Penn State

Miami will look to rebound after players like Chris Lykes and Earl Timberlake have departed. Isaiah Wong and Kam McGusty could still return to the Hurricanes which should give this uninteresting matchup against Penn State a little more life.

14. Minnesota at Pittsburgh

Marcus Carr has departed from Minnesota and so has Richard Pitino. The Ben Johnson era is now underway in Minneapolis.

On the other side, Pittsburgh looks to rebuild after a max exodus. Both teams are irrelevant and look to climb out of the conference basement.

15. Northwestern at Wake

What do you want me to say here? Carter Whitt is cool, I guess.