There was one big question for North Carolina going into their game with Wisconsin in the final night of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge: would they be able to play effectively in a tempo nowhere near what they look to establish on a nightly basis? Thanks to a second half run from Harrison Barnes and the excellent defense of Dexter Strickland, the Tar Heels passed said test with a 60-57 win over the Badgers in Chapel Hill.
The title game of the Old Spice Classic may not be the kind of matchup that leads off SportsCenter like say, North Carolina/Kentucky next week, but it is a contest that we could look back on in March when discussing tournament resumes. Dayton (4-1) and Minnesota (6-0) meet in the title game, with both surviving a pair of close games to reach this point.
Much has been made of Long Beach State playing five non-conference opponents who were ranked in the Top 15 of the major preseason polls. Many wondered how Dan Monson's team would navigate such a slate in spite of the fact that this experienced group went through a similar schedule last season. If Wednesday night showed anything about the 49ers it's that they're ready for the challenge, as they handed Pittsburgh its' first loss in November or December at the Petersen Events Center in the history of the arena.
As part of our 5-Year Ranking series, here's how the Big Ten teams stack up according to conference wins. The makeup of the Big Ten is quite different from most of the other power-conferences. The also-rans in the Big Ten have fared much better than other league also-rans, while the middle teams are much more mediocre. With one or two surprises, the final league standings will probably look pretty similar to the 5-year standings.
In all honesty it shouldn't come as a surprise that UCLA struggled with an in-state non-conference opponent, the very teams that most in the fan base expect the Bruins to simply roll over regardless of their level of interest. But in recent seasons it's become more of an issue as the Bruins haven't been talented enough to simply flip the switch, and there was another hard lesson to learn in the LA Sports Arena. The preseason pick to win the Pac-12 shot 40.7% from the field and made just two of fifteen from beyond the arc in a 69-58 loss to Loyola Marymount.
America East: James Kennedy (Boston University)