Whose stock is rising and falling in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge?

Whose stock is rising and falling in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge?

The Big Ten defeated the ACC 8-6 in the annual challenge between the two conferences. Below is a look at whose stock rose and fell during this year's event.


The difference in Wednesday night's long-anticipated Duke-Wisconsin clash didn't turn out to be Frank Kaminsky's outside shooting or Jahlil Okafor's scoring in the post. Duke's brilliant guard play actually overshadowed the two heralded big men. Point guard Tyus Jones scorched the Badgers off the dribble and from the perimeter the whole night, delivering 22 points on just 11 shots. Jones, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon combined to score 49 points and sink 6 of 9 threes as well. Though those three had a big hand in the Blue Devils shooting 65.2 percent from the field, offense wasn't their only contribution. Duke's decision to switch every screen often left them guarding a bigger player, yet they held their own in those matchups, contributing to Wisconsin shooting just 40.7 percent.


Between his offseason growth spurt, the muscle he added to his frame and the rave reviews he received for his play at the LeBron James camp, Sam Dekker began his junior season with sky-high expectations. He may yet live up to that hype this season once a lingering ankle injury fully heals, but so far he looks a lot like the good but sometimes erratic player he was last year. In eight games, Dekker is averaging 12.7 points and 3.6 rebounds. Aside from a huge two-handed slam off a beautiful backdoor pass, he was virtually invisible against Duke on Wednesday night, finishing with five points on five shots. Wisconsin fans could probably live with it if Dekker just had a tough shooting night, but the lack of aggressiveness against the Blue Devils has to be particularly galling. 


He started 0-for-7 from the field with four turnovers. He dislocated his left pinky finger early in the second half. Terry Rozier was having a rough night during Louisville's 64-55 victory over Ohio State right up until the Cardinals needed him to save them. Rozier scored eight points in the final four minutes including a pair of huge 3-pointers to keep the Buckeyes at arm's length. The first extended Louisville's lead back to 54-46 with 3:51 to play and the second put the Cardinals ahead 59-53 after the Buckeyes had slashed a 19-point deficit to three in the final minute. That Rozier saved Louisville with a pair of threes is surprising because he has struggled from long range. While he is averaging 13.6 points per game and enjoying the breakout year most projected he would have, he is only shooting 18.2 percent from behind the arc.


When the ACC announced it would be adding the likes of Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski boldly proclaimed, "We're going to be the best conference in the history of the game." That certainly didn't ring true last season when the ACC failed to send a single team to the Elite Eight, nor does it seem accurate this season when the conference's depth seems to thin dramatically behind its upper echelon. While Duke, Louisville, Virginia and North Carolina are each top 12 teams with legitimate Final Four aspirations, how good anyone else is remains unclear. Louisville and Miami won Tuesday to remain unbeaten this season. Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Notre Dame each play Wednesday. But Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Pittsburgh all lost either Monday or Tuesday to put the ACC in a 6-2 hole. That's a sign of the strength of the Big Ten's depth but it also reflects the mediocrity in the middle and bottom tiers in the ACC.


The more Spike Albrecht contributes at Michigan, the harder it is to believe the lightly recruited point guard once was headed to Appalachian State before the Wolverines finally showed interest. Albrecht rewarded Michigan coach John Beilein for that decision once again Tuesday night with a brilliant performance in a 68-65 victory over Syracuse. He shredded the Orange's trademark two-three zone for 11 points, 9 assists and 0 turnovers and sank the game's biggest shot, a go-ahead 3-pointer after Syracuse had rallied to tie it at 63 in the final minute. The last time Albrecht played this well on a national stage, he tweeted Michigan native Kate Upton asking her out on a date after the 2013 national title game. As well as Albrecht played Tuesday, don't be surprised if he takes another shot.


How did Syracuse manage to lose a game in which it shot more than 50 percent from the field and held Michigan to under 40 percent? Albrecht's brilliance was a factor as were the Wolverines' 17 offensive boards, but in reality, much of the damage was self-inflicted. Syracuse committed 19 turnovers in its 68-65 loss, none more costly than two in the final seconds with the Orange trailing by just one. First, freshman Chris McCullough rebounded a missed free throw by Michigan's Derrick Walton but threw his outlet pass out of bounds. Then after Caris LeVert also missed the front end of a 1 and 1 to keep the Orange within one, freshman Kaleb Joseph squandered that chance by dribbling into traffic and losing the ball. The sequence was a reminder of what Syracuse lost when Tyler Ennis turned pro after his freshman year. While Joseph will be a fine player in time, he's neither as steady nor as poised as Ennis and the Orange don't have another true point guard on their roster.


One of Indiana's biggest weaknesses so far this season has been the lack of a reliable big man. Hanner Mosquera-Perea hasn't proven reliable enough to make the transition from role player to interior focal point and none of Indiana's young big men seemed ready for that kind of responsibility. That changed Tuesday night when freshman Emmitt Holt enjoyed a breakout night at Pittsburgh's expense. The 6-foot-7 forward scored 15 points on 6 of 6 shooting and added five rebounds and two blocks, helping Indiana to a comfortable 81-69 victory. Holt is a little undersized to be a rim protector and a little raw as a low-post threat, but he showed good hands and touch around the rim when Pittsburgh big men left him free to help on Indiana's slashing guards. If he can do that while also defending and rebounding, he'll be a much-needed backup at worst and perhaps supplant Mosquera-Perea in the starting lineup before too long.


The myth that Pittsburgh is a good defensive team hasn't been true for years, but this might finally be the season even those who aren't paying attention finally stop spouting it. The Panthers are so inept on that end of the floor they make bad offensive teams look competent and good ones look unstoppable. Pittsburgh played an extended man-to-man against Indiana in hopes of eliminating the 3-point shot, so the Hoosiers carved up the Panthers off dribble, sinking 17 of 28 shots and scoring 24 points in the paint. Switching to a 2-3 zone did little to help Pittsburgh either in the second half as Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson and others continued to find driving lanes. Indiana extended an eight-point halftime lead to as many as 23 en route to an easy 81-69 victory. Poor defense against the hot-shooting Hoosiers wouldn't be alarming if it were a one-time only problem but it's no aberration. A mediocre Hawaii team shot 52 percent from the field in an upset victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 21. Division II Chaminade shot 51 percent from the field a few nights later. And defense-oriented San Diego State shot an absurd 58.7 percent in a 74-57 rout of the Panthers.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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