By Emmett Prosser Special to Published Dec 02, 2009 at 1:03 PM


With six teams in the preseason national rankings, no head coaching turnover and 75 percent of its scoring back from a season ago, this was finally supposed to be the year that Big Ten college basketball teams got to do the majority of the trash talking.

But November returns show that the foes in the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conferences aren't listening yet.

After all the Thanksgiving tournaments were completed last weekend, the Big Ten failed to establish itself as the elite league. Both West Virginia and Villanova of the Big East took home holiday trophies in Anaheim and San Juan. Surprising Cincinnati finished second in the Maui Invitational and earned a spot in the polls this week.

Meanwhile, Michigan State (ranked No. 2 in preseason) lost to Florida. Minnesota fell out of the Top 25 after losing to Portland. Marquette dominated No. 15 Michigan in the Old Spice Classic before losing to Florida State and Indiana lost all three of its games in San Juan.

Only Purdue remains undefeated in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers are No. 4 in the nation after winning the Paradise Jam.

Three weeks into the college basketball season, the Big East now boasts seven teams in the Top 25. The Big Ten and ACC both have four.

If the Big Ten is to be considered top dog on the national college basketball landscape this season, it must win the ACC / Big Ten Challenge for the first time. The conference is 0-10 in the event.

Until then ... don't believe the hype.

The University of Wisconsin has a chance to help change perception and do a little barking for its league on Wednesday night when the Badgers play No. 6 Duke at the Kohl Center.

Despite being 59-5 in non-conference games at the Kohl Center under Bo Ryan, that task won't exactly be easy.

Duke is a perfect 10-0 in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge games. Though Wisconsin has defeated three straight ACC foes, the Big Ten is currently 38-64 in the event.

Duke's Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, form one of the top scoring combinations in all of college basketball. The Blue Devils also feature five players in Mike Krzyewski's rotation that are 6-8 or taller. Size will bother the most talented of programs. Connecticut shot 36 percent and failed to make a three-pointer last week.

That's the bad news.

Here is the good.

The Blue Devils lack a pure point guard and their backcourt doesn't feature the kind of quickness that often gives the Badgers problems. UW has enough length in its lineup to make Duke work on offense and a pair of senior guards in the starting lineup.

If Wisconsin is to avenge a loss to Duke in 2007, Keaton Nankivil, Jon Leuer and Mike Bruesewitz will have to keep Duke off the boards and Trevon Hughes needs to create shots off the dribble in traffic. Getting to the free throw line often is also a must.

Under Ryan, the Badgers win many of their games in the Kohl Center by shooting more free throws then the opponent. Duke often notches victories using a similar formula.

Ryan also usually dares his opponents to shoot three-point attempts and Duke always has multiple options from outside the arc. A big key for the Badgers will be getting the long rebounds on Duke's missed perimeter shots.

With four upperclassmen in the starting lineup and a sea of Grateful Red at home, one would think that UW has a puncher's chance to pull an upset against a top 10 team.

A loss could mean 11 straight Challenge wins for the ACC...and another black eye for the Big Ten.

Live blog tonight: Join Andrew Wagner, live from Madison, and Drew Olson, watching the ESPN broadcast from the comfort of his couch, tonight for a live blog beginning at 8 p.m. Insight, analysis and, of course, your participation through comments and Twiter feeds are welcome.

Emmett Prosser Special to

Emmett Prosser is a former sports producer at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online and has covered the Brewers, Bucks and Marquette basketball in many capacities for 13 years.

Prosser also signed a year's worth of 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers' media relations department after graduating from Xavier University so he could get three-point shooting tips from NBA great Mark Price. The son of an English teacher and former basketball coach, Prosser attended Marquette high school.

In his spare time, Prosser enjoys live music and fooling people into making them believe he can play the drums. He also serves on the board of directiors for United Cerebral Palsy.