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College basketball predictions: Best bets for Wednesday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Back Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State in final battle between two power conferences

Ohio State forward Justice Sueing dunks the ball during last week's Maui Invitational game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Sueing and the 25th-ranked Buckeyes travel to No. 17 Duke on Wednesday in the finale of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Ohio State forward Justice Sueing dunks the ball during last week's Maui Invitational game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Sueing and the 25th-ranked Buckeyes travel to No. 17 Duke on Wednesday in the finale of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)Read moreDarryl Oumi / Getty Images

For the past 23 years, two of college basketball’s premier conferences have engaged in a post-Thanksgiving battle for supremacy known as the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

That tradition ends Wednesday with the final six games in the event’s history, as the ACC earlier this week announced a new annual partnership with the SEC.

At least the longstanding series is going out with a bang, as two of the final matchups involve a pair of ranked teams: No. 17 Duke hosts No. 25 Ohio State, while No. 18 North Carolina travels north to face No. 10 Indiana.

Another Top 25 squad — No. 20 Michigan State — has an intriguing road clash against Notre Dame, which is off to a 5-1 start.

Which teams have the betting edge in Wednesday’s trio of marquee matchups? Here are our college basketball predictions for the grand finale of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Note: Odds updated as of 11 a.m. ET on Nov. 30.

Ohio State vs. Duke Prediction

  1. Ohio State +5.5 (at FanDuel)

Ohio State vs. Duke Prediction: Analysis

The Blue Devils (6-2 SU, 4-3 ATS) will take the court against a Big Ten foe for the second time in about 72 hours. And they’ll do so hoping for a vastly different result.

Duke came out on the wrong end of a 75-56 laugher against Purdue in Sunday’s finale of the Phil Knight Legacy tournament in Portland, Oregon. The Blue Devils shot just 36% overall, missed 17 of 19 three-point attempts and got outrebounded 41-28.

The loss snapped Duke’s four-game SU winning streak, which included a pair of victories over Oregon State (54-51) and Xavier (71-64) to start the Phil Knight Legacy event. And in failing to cover as a 1-point favorite, the Blue Devils dropped to 1-3 ATS in their last four.

Ohio State (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS) had the complete opposite experience during its trip across the Pacific last week for the Maui Invitational. The Buckeyes lost 88-77 to San Diego State as a 5-point underdog in its first-round matchup but rebounded to beat Cincinnati (81-53 as a 3.5-point favorite) and Texas Tech (80-73 as a 2-point underdog).

Both teams have been strong defensively in the early going. Duke yields just 57 points per game (19th in the country). Ohio State is giving up 61 points per outing (40th).

The big difference, though, is at the offensive end. The Buckeyes (79.3) are averaging nearly nine points per contest more than the Blue Devils (70.5).

In fact, Ohio State has tallied at least 77 points in five of six games, including 80-plus four times. Meanwhile, Duke has had two strong offensive performances against something called South Carolina Upstate (84-38) and Delaware (92-58). Otherwise, the Devils are averaging just 61.3 points per outing.

When these teams met exactly one year ago in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Ohio State prevailed 71-66 as a 3-point home underdog. We wouldn’t be shocked to see another upset Wednesday in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Just to be safe, though, we’re taking the 5.5 points FanDuel is offering.

Ohio State vs. Duke odds (via FanDuel):

  1. Point spread: Ohio State (+5.5) @ Duke (-5.5)

  2. Moneyline: Ohio State (+195) @ Duke (-240)

  3. Total: 134.5 points (Over -105/Under -115)

» READ MORE: College basketball futures odds, predictions: Can Houston win it all in its hometown?

North Carolina vs. Indiana Prediction

  1. Indiana -4.5 (at FanDuel)

North Carolina vs. Indiana Prediction: Analysis

A week ago at this time, North Carolina was 5-0 and perched atop the Top 25 rankings. Today? The Tar Heels are 5-2 and all the way down to No. 18.

Such is the penance for a pair of losses in the Phil Knight Invitational, also played last week in Portland.

After barely surviving against Portland State 89-81 in the first round of the invitational, North Carolina fell to Iowa State 70-65 as a 5.5-point chalk. Then came Sunday’s 103-101 quadruple-overtime heartbreaker against Alabama, in which star forward Armando Bacot (16.7 points, team-high 11.3 rebounds per game) tweaked his ankle.

The Tar Heels just missed cashing as a 1.5-point underdog against the Crimson Tide, dropping to 1-6 ATS on season.

Conversely, Indiana not only is 6-0 SU but 4-1-1 ATS. Granted, the Hoosiers have faced just one halfway decent opponent — they beat Xavier 81-79 as a two-point road chalk on Nov. 18.

Still, Indiana pummeled its five cupcakes ­— Morehead State, Bethune-Cookman, Miami (Ohio), Arkansas Little-Rock and Jackson State — by margins of 35, 52, 30, 19 and 39 points. Along the way, the Hoosiers covered point spreads of 24, 26, 27 and 31 points.

Indiana, which has topped 80 points in every game, ranks eighth nationally in scoring (88.8 ppg) and second in field-goal shooting (55.9%).

However, Wednesday’s game at Assembly Hall likely will be decided from beyond the arc. While the Hoosiers are draining 38.3% of their three-point shots (41st nationally), UNC is allowing opponents to convert at a 30.8% clip (284th nationally).

In fact, Alabama (16-for-38) and Iowa State (9-for-20) shot a combined 43% from distance over the weekend against the Tar Heels.

With forward Miller Kopp (13-for-25) and guard Xavier Johnson (8-for-12) lighting it up from downtown — and with Bacot questionable for UNC — look for Indiana to stay hot both on the scoreboard and at the betting window.

Lay the points with the Hoosiers at FanDuel.

North Carolina vs. Indiana Odds (via FanDuel)

  1. Point spread: North Carolina (+4.5) @ Indiana (-4.5)

  2. Moneyline: North Carolina (+162) @ Indiana (-196)

  3. Total: 145.5 points (Over -105/Under -115)

» READ MORE: March Madness odds: Latest favorites to win NCAA basketball tournament

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Prediction:

  1. Michigan State -2.5 (at FanDuel)

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Prediction: Analysis

There is zero doubt about which of these squads is more battle tested.

Through seven games, Michigan State (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) has already faced five teams — Gonzaga, Kentucky, Villanova, Oregon and Alabama — that are currently ranked in the Top 25 or were to start the season.

Meanwhile, here are Notre Dame’s first six opponents: Radford, Youngstown State, Southern Indiana, Lipscomb and Bowling Green (all at home), plus St. Bonaventure at a neutral site.

However, unlike Indiana — which has annihilated its string of creampuffs — the Irish (5-1 SU, 0-5-1 ATS) have just two convincing victories: 82-66 over Bowling Green and 82-70 over Southern Indiana. The other three wins were by a combined 11 points.

When Notre Dame finally left South Bend, Indiana, on Friday, it got clocked 63-51 by St. Bonaventure as a six-point favorite in Elmont, New York. With that, the Irish fell to 0-5-1 ATS on the season.

So why is Michigan State only laying a short number Wednesday night? Perhaps because the Spartans have played one close game after another the past 2½ weeks.

Since a one-point loss to Gonzaga on an aircraft carrier in San Diego on Nov. 11, Michigan State owns a double-overtime win over Kentucky (86-77) and three victories over Villanova (73-71), Oregon (74-70) and Portland State (78-77) by a combined seven points.

Also, after competing in the Phil Knight Invitational, the Spartans will be playing their third game in six days, likely without two of the seven players who average more than 20 minutes of court time. Guard Jaden Akins (doubtful) and forward Malik Hall (out) have foot injuries.

However, Michigan State won two of three games at the Phil Knight Invitational without Akins and Hall. And while the Spartans might be a bit gassed, we’re confident they’ll have enough in the tank to take care of Notre Dame, which isn’t nearly as good as its record.

Bet on Michigan State as a small road chalk.

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame Odds (via FanDuel)

  1. Point spread: Michigan State (-2.5) @ Notre Dame (+2.5)

  2. Moneyline: Michigan State (-140) @ Notre Dame (+116)

  3. Total: 139.5 points (Over -115/Under -105)

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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