Tuesday's ACC-Big Ten Challenge Picks, Predictions, Odds

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge takes center stage on Tuesday Nov. 29 and we'll be focusing on three of the games, which includes the headliner between No. 3 Virginia and Michigan from Ann Arbor. Let’s see if we can pull enough information from these early-season results to locate an opportunity, or three, for cashing some tickets.

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at No. 16 Illinois
Georgia Tech at Iowa
No. 3 Virginia at Michigan

Syracuse at Illinois

  • Venue: State Farm Center
  • Location: Champaign, Illinois
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Matchup
  • Expert Picks

Syracuse has had three straight nail-biters. They went 1-1 in the Empire Classic, with both contests needing overtime to decide a winner. Then they came home and lost to Bryant as double-digit favorites on a last-second bucket. The Orange are doing a decent job holding teams to a little over 40% from the field but they’re not shooting much better than that and half their opponents outrebound them.

Illinois beat UCLA and was leading Virginia at the half before losing in the Continental Tire Main Event Championship on Sunday. In their last game, they beat the mighty Lindenwood Lions covering a huge 32 ½ point spread. This team is also holding opponents to around 40% from the floor, the only difference is they’re shooting over 50% and outrebounding teams by 130%.

If you didn’t know the line, you’d think that the Illini were favored but not necessarily by double digits. They have broken 85 in four of their six so far and the Orange are pretty consistent scoring-wise too. If the score ends with Illinois ahead 80-70, we’ll be glad we had the over.

Best Bet: Over

Georgia Tech has been installed as a healthy road underdog for Tuesday's matchup at Iowa. (Getty)

Georgia Tech at Iowa

  • Venue: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa
  • TV-Time: ESPN2, 9:00 p.m. ET
  • Matchup
  • Expert Picks

Georgia Tech was 3-0 before their holiday tournament and came home 3-2 only to pounce on North Alabama covering the 14 ½ in the Yellow Jackets’ fifth straight under to open the season. In all their wins they outshot the other team and in three of them, it was by more than 10%. They must have not liked that Fort Myers Tip-Off court or maybe Marquette and Utah are just better than them. Their shooting percentage in Florida was 34% and they allowed those other two a combined 46% and were outrebounded by both.

Iowa beat Clemson and then lost to TCU in the final of the Emerald Coast Classic tourney. They were favored in both and covered in neither. In that last game, they allowed the Horned Frogs a 12% higher shooting percentage than they were able to muster themselves and threw in a dozen more rebounds as well. If the winners hadn’t missed more than half of their free throws the scoreboard would have looked a lot worse for the Hawkeyes.

This spread is even larger than the first game but not as scary this Yellow Jackets team might be the reward for playing Clemson and TCU back to back. Iowa isn’t Duke, but they’re not the North Alabama Lions either. Laying over two touchdowns seems okay here.

Best Bet: Iowa

Virginia at Michigan

  • Venue: Crisler Center
  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • Matchup
  • Picks

Virginia is undefeated, ranked 6th in the country, and the only games they haven’t covered this year saw them laying more than 24 points. If you’ve followed the Cavaliers at all over the last 14 years of Tony Bennett’s run, you know they usually have one of the lowest totals on the board when they’re on the schedule. Most of that comes from how well Virginia plays defense. This season they’ve held every opponent under 42% except for Baylor, and they beat the Bears 86-79.

Michigan is 5-1 with the only loss coming against Arizona State in the final of the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center. In that game, they saw the Sun Devils hit over 60% of their shots. They had held all their previous foes to less than 46%. The fact that they shot 33% in that loss didn’t help and they’re averaging almost 47% from the field if you throw that one out. 

The Wolverines haven’t been underdogs yet this season. In their last three games, they’ve shot 38% from the field and that number is usually a bad day for the Virginia defense. The last two teams that the Cavaliers faced scored a total of 106 points. Giving 4 ½ seems like a discount because this is in Ann Arbor.

Best Bet: Virginia