Though the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge began Monday night, its most marquee matchups will be played Tuesday and Wednesday nights to avoid clashing with the NFL. Here’s a quick look at several games matching “Dance caliber” opponents. Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings entering the week (kenpom.com) are in parentheses:
- Iowa (48) at Syracuse (54) — Tuesday, 7 p.m., ESPN2: Neither Iowa nor Syracuse may turn out to be Dance 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 this season. 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 versus Virginia, Oklahoma State and Penn State (the latter two in a tournament at Barclays Center).
- Michigan (10) at Louisville (2) — Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., 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, the new No. 1 team in the AP Top 25, 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) — Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., ESPN: You surely know about Duke’s shocking home loss to Stephen F. Austin as 28-point favorites. That’s part of a current 1-4 ATS skid. Duke is 6-2 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 over-enthusiastic market expectations. State didn’t cover a single game at the Maui tournament.
- Virginia (3) at Purdue (13) — Wednesday, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2: Virginia is 7-0, but 2-5 ATS against high prices. You can tell the market sets prices based 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) — Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN: Maryland just won the Orlando Invitational, highlighted by an 84-63 rout of Marquette laying -3 ¹/₂ in Sunday’s final. 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. Irish are just 2-4-1 ATS.
- Ohio State (4) at North Carolina (12) — Wednesday, 9.30 p.m., 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!