Big men in a big top-five matchup to start December.
Second-ranked Wisconsin and 7-foot senior Frank Kaminsky are home Wednesday night against fourth-ranked Duke and Jahlil Okafor, the 6-foot-11 freshman living up to lofty expectations with 17.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Both teams are off to 7-0 starts.
Badgers coach Bo Ryan, coming off his first NCAA Final Four appearance last season, goes against 11-time Final Four coach and four-time national champion Mike Krzyzewski in one of four Top 25 matchups among the 14 games in the 16th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Those aren’t the only power conferences going head-to-head and matching ranked teams this week.
Along with the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the SEC and Big 12 go against each other.
Top-ranked Kentucky (7-0) is home Friday night against No. 6 Texas. The other double-ranked SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchup has No. 18 Arkansas at No. 20 Iowa State.
The Wildcats, outscoring opponents by an NCAA-best 36.8 points per game, already have a lopsided victory over Big 12 favorite and perennial league champion Kansas — 72-40 in Indianapolis last month.
Texas is coming off a last-shot, 55-54 win at defending national champion Connecticut, which knocked the Huskies out of this week’s AP poll.
In the other Top 25 matchups in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, No. 15 Miami is home against No. 24 Illinois in a rematch of the 2013 NCAA tournament game the Hurricanes won to get to the Sweet 16. Fifth-ranked Louisville takes on No. 14 Ohio State for the first time since 2003, and No. 7 Virginia plays No. 21 Maryland, the first-year Big Ten team after it switched from the ACC.
Both big men in the Wisconsin-Duke game are from Illinois. Kaminsky is averaging 16.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for the Badgers.
In what was almost another Top 25 matchup in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, No. 11 Kansas is home against Florida. The Gators were a Final Four team last season, but after an 11-point loss to North Carolina last week they fell out of the Top 25 to end a streak of being ranked in 68 consecutive polls, then surpassed only by Duke (140) and Kansas (108).
There are also a couple of games outside the conference challenges matching ranked teams.
Eighth-ranked Wichita State plays at No. 25 Utah on Wednesday night. Then ninth-ranked Gonzaga, which beat Georgia and St. John’s in New York last week to win the NIT Season Tip-Off, plays Saturday at third-ranked Arizona.
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