M.J. Walker #23 of the Florida State Seminoles. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP
The Big Ten is routing the ACC in the annual challenge. Can the Florida State Seminoles make a last stand for the ACC or will the Indiana Hoosiers and the Big Ten roll? Keep on reading to see my college basketball pick with analysis for this one.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Florida State Seminoles
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 – 7:15 PM ET at Donald L. Tucker Center
The Big Ten is on its way to the biggest rout in the 22-year history of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The conference clinched a win on the first night of the two-day event, sweeping six of the seven opening day games. With three of the 14 games scratched due to COVID, B1G has already clinched a win—at least until the postponed games are actually played.
ACC Blue Bloods UNC and Duke have already lost. That leaves the conference’s New Blood to make a last stand.
That’s the name that Florida State is using to refer to the Seminoles’ ascension to one of the top teams in college basketball. The Noles will get to face one of the Blue Bloods in Indiana and make a statement while preserving at least one shred of the ACC’s dignity.
Indiana has started off the season 3-1, with an impressive third-place showing in the Maui Invitational. The Hoosiers beat Providence by 21 and Stanford by 16, losing only to eventual tournament champion Texas.
The Hoosiers were led by sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored 20.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in the three games, winning All-Tournament honors, as well as Big Ten Player of the Week. Indiana has had its success so far this year without senior big man Joey Brunk, and coach Archie Miller announced that’s not going to change anytime soon as Brunk continues battling a back problem.
“Joey hasn’t participated in anything,” Miller said. “I doubt he will be available in the near future just because we are trying to figure out what the best plan of action is for him. We are not planning on having Joey right now or in the immediate future unless something changes.”
Miller also wasn’t optimistic about having senior guard Al Durham for the game. He sprained his ankle against Texas and missed the Stanford game. “Al has been very slow with his recovery,” Miller said. “Realistically, he had a tough ankle sprain, and it’s only. been about a week.” He’ll be a game-time decision.
The Hoosiers will be playing their fourth straight power conference opponent and fourth straight game away from home.
Noles Ready for Prime Time
Florida State will finally get to play another game. The Noles opened the season with a blowout of North Florida on Dec. 2. They’ve played the fewest games in the ACC, where most of the squads already have three or four games under their belts.
Coach Leonard Hamilton said he’s happy with the early schedule since it gave the Noles two weeks to work on themselves, instead of preparing for a string of opponents. That could end up being a wise move in a year when teams around the country are showing the strain of having less time than usual to prepare for the season.
It also means Indiana doesn’t have much FSU film to work with, but the Hoosiers probably don’t need much. Indiana blew out Florida State in last year’s challenge, and the Noles are the same as ever. Hamilton has a seemingly endless parade of big bodies to bring in off the bench.
Ten different Seminoles played at least 11 minutes in the opener, and no one on the roster is under 6-foot-4. That includes 7-foot-1 Balsa Koprivica and 6-foot-11 Quincy Ballard. The Noles are paced by Scottie Barnes, who promises to be the top freshman in the ACC and senior MJ Walker.
The online betting sites seem to think this will be a close game. After it opened with the Noles as two-point favorites, it was quickly bet up to three and 3.5 points at most sites.
We’re going to follow the money. The Hoosiers are missing a pair of senior contributors and, despite the tough early schedule, they will be facing the toughest foe of the season so far. The biggest concern about Florida State is the lack of games, but, with coaches everywhere trying to get young teams to gel without a full preseason, exhibitions, and scrimmages, the extra practice could be something the rest of the country wished they did as well.
Look for the Noles to make a last stand for the conference with a win for the ACC in the challenge.
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