Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pairings set for expanded ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The ACC will win the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the 11th time.

Or the newly expanded Big Ten will make it three straight, after losing the first 10 years. Or there'll be a tie.

For the first time, the made-for-ESPN basketball series has been scheduled for an even number of games. (The Big Ten actually has 12 teams with the addition of Nebraska.)

North Carolina, which will be the favorite to win both the ACC and national titles, hosts Wisconsin on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Duke, which has won more games in the Challenge than any team, travels to Ohio State on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and N.C. State, with first-year coach Mark Gottfried, hosts Indiana on Nov. 30.

Duke beat Ohio State in '02 in the Challenge for one of its 11 wins in the Challenge. The Blue Devils only loss in the Challenge came at Wisconsin in '09. The Buckeyes, and forward Jared Sullinger, will be a test for Duke's frontcourt.

UNC's just 6-6 in the Challenge but has won six of its past eight games. It's the first time the Heels and Badgers have met in the Challenge and their first meeting since the Syracuse Regional final in the 2005 NCAA tournament. UNC beat the Badgers en route to coach Roy Williams first national title.

The Wolfpack will host an Indiana team that went 12-20 last season and has won just eight Big Ten games in three years under coach Tom Crean. The Pack got waxed by 39 points at Wisconsin last season and has lost three straight games in the Challenge with its last win in '06 at home over Michigan.

Tuesday, Nov. 29
Miami @ Purdue
Northwestern @ Georgia Tech
Illinois @ Maryland
Michigan @ Virginia
Clemson @ Iowa
Duke @ Ohio State

Wednesday, Nov. 30
Indiana @ N.C. State
Penn State @ Boston College
Florida State @ Michigan State
Virginia Tech @ Minnesota
Wake Forest @ Nebraska
Wisconsin @ UNC

-- J.P. Giglio

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Anonymous said...

Wow, Duke @ OSU will be a barnburner.

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