One of the nicer events on the college basketball calendar is the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It used to be the ACC/Big East Challenge until the Big East opted out complaining that its coaches preferred playing cupcakes instead of playing tougher opponents for out-of-conference games. But that’s all in the past now. The Big Ten took the Big East’s place and no one remembers that the Big East once took part in this.
Anyway, ESPN has set the matchups and schedule for this year’s ACC Big Ten Challenge.
Twelfth Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Matchups Set for Nov. 29-Dec. 1The matchup of defending national champion Duke against Final Four participant Michigan State will highlight the field for the 12th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Nov. 29-Dec. 1 on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com. Duke is ranked No. 1 and Michigan State No. 3 in an early preseason top 25 poll by ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz.Additional teams in the ESPN.com poll comprise No. 2 Purdue at No. 22 Virginia Tech, No. 6 Ohio State at Florida State and No. 11 North Carolina at No. 15 Illinois.This year’s event – featuring top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioner’s Cup — will include 11 teams that played in the 2010 NCAA Tournament: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Wake Forest from the ACC, and Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin from the Big Ten.For the sixth consecutive year, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge will feature 11 games and include two telecasts on ESPNU with ESPN and ESPN2 combining to televise the remaining nine games. ESPN3.com, the broadband sports television network from ESPN, will simulcast the ESPN and ESPN2 telecasts.
- First Meeting: Georgia Tech and Northwestern will square off in the first meeting between the two programs.
- Pursuing Perfection: Boston College will look to continue its undefeated streak in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Indiana. The Eagles have won their previous four games.
- Going for 11: Duke, which lost its first Challenge game last year, will look for its event-record 11th win. Duke has also won its two previous Challenge games against Michigan State.
- Commissioner’s Cup: The Big Ten won the Commissioner’s Cup last year for the first time in 10 years.
- First Challenge Matchups: Six of the telecasts will feature first-time Challenge matchups: No. 2 Purdue at No. 22 Virginia Tech, Michigan at Clemson, Georgia Tech at Northwestern, North Carolina State at Wisconsin, Indiana at Boston College and Maryland at Penn State.
- Rematch: Ohio State and Florida State will meet in the Challenge for the second straight year. Ohio State won the first meeting 77-64.
- Familiar Foes: No. 11 North Carolina and No. 15 Illinois will meet in the Challenge for the fourth time, with Illinois winning two of the first three. Virginia and Minnesota will also meet for the fourth time in the event. Minnesota won two of the first three.2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule (times and networks are to be determined):
Date Game Mon, Nov 29 Virginia at Minnesota Tue, Nov 30 No. 11 North Carolina at No. 15 Illinois No. 6 Ohio State at Florida State Michigan at Clemson Georgia Tech at Northwestern Iowa at Wake Forest Wed, Dec 1 No. 3 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke No. 2 Purdue at No. 22 Virginia Tech North Carolina State at Wisconsin Indiana at Boston College Maryland at Penn StateSince 2000, the ACC (10) and the Big Ten (nine) have combined for 19 Final Four appearances and six national titles: North Carolina (2009 and 2005), Maryland (2002), Duke (2001 and 2010) and Michigan State (2000). The ACC leads in NCAA Tournament victories and Final Four appearances while the Big Ten is first in Tournament appearances.
I’ll post more releases later.