It’s time! One of the greatest annual slates non-conference battles is the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and it all begins today for the 22nd time. The ACC looks to hold its 12-6-3 challenge lead and has an overall record of 133-106 over the boys from Big Ten country. This year’s battle for the Commissioner’s Cup features several marquee matchups.
Before we get into the dessert though, we need to get the veggies out of the way. The NC State-Michigan and Louisville-Wisconsin games were postponed over the last two days. NC State and Louisville are experiencing COVID-19 complications within the program. However, the key word is “postponed” and not “cancelled.” The schools are working on alternative dates so that the games can be played.
Now for the good stuff. Both the ACC and Big Ten have six teams ranked in the AP Top 25, which is tied for the most of any conference. Four games feature Top 25 matchups, including #6 Illinois at #10 Duke. We already had an appetizer, if you will, with #4 Michigan State making the trip to Cameron Indoor a week ago and beating Duke 75-69.
Meanwhile, some huge win streaks are on the line for a pair of ACC teams. Florida State has the second longest non-conference home win streak with 39 victories in a row. Virginia Tech is third with 34 consecutive triumphs.
There are five first time matchups between ACC/Big Ten schools in the challenge itself. Clemson-Maryland, Louisville-Wisconsin (if played), Notre Dame-Ohio State, Pitt-Northwestern, and Syracuse-Rutgers. Obviously SU and Rutgers have played before, but not in the challenge itself, and not since 2013.
The ACC hasn’t won outright since 2017. Without further ado, let’s look at this year’s slate, predict each game, and determine a projected challenge winner.
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Miami (FL) vs Purdue | ESPN 2 | 5 PM
Boston College @ Minnesota | ESPNU | 7 PM
#16 North Carolina @ Iowa | ESPN | 7:30 PM
Notre Dame vs #22 Ohio State | ESPN 2 | 7:30 PM
#18 Virginia Tech vs Penn State | ESPNU | 9 PM
#10 Duke vs #6 Illinois | ESPN | 9:30 PM
Syracuse @ #21 Rutgers | ESPN 2 | 9: 30 PM
Wednesday, Dec. 9
Clemson vs Maryland | ESPN 2 | 5:00 PM
#20 Florida State vs Indiana | ESPN | 7:15 PM
Georgia Tech @ Nebraska | ESPN 2 | 7:15 PM
#18 Virginia vs #4 Michigan State | ESPN | 9:15 PM
Pittsburgh @ Northwestern | ESPN 2 | 9:15 PM
NC State @ Michigan – Postponed
#25 Louisville @ #13 Wisconsin – Postponed
I’ll update this as we receive word on the two postponements but there’s the slate with all the times and television channels. Of course, ESPN owns the rights to this non-conference event. Now let’s predict how it’s going to go down with the 12 scheduled games listed.
On Tuesday, I have Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, and Syracuse winning. BC/Minnesota is an absolute toss-up, the Eagles have played very good competition thus far, but the Golden Gophers are 4-0 and difficult to beat in “The Barn.” Iowa will win for much the same reason, Luke Garza is putting up big numbers every night (as expected), and I don’t think the Tar Heels will have any answers in Iowa City. Finally,Ohio State is just simply better than Notre Dame, and I haven’t been impressed with Duke early on in the season. (Big Ten leads 4-3).
As for Wednesday, my ACC winners are Clemson (who beat Purdue already as well), Florida State, and Georgia Tech. Michigan State is playing good ball right now and certainly passed the eye test by handling Duke on the road. Additionally, the Cavaliers have already been on upset alert several times this season and lost to San Francisco. Plus the Breslin Center is one of the toughest places to win in college basketball, especially when the lower bowl is packed (but not this year unfortunately). Finally, Northwestern will eek out a tough one against Pitt. Neither team is very good and haven’t played a respectable opponent thus far, unless you consider St. Francis (PA) a tough opponent. Yeah, they beat the Panthers if you don’t recall. (Tie 6-6)
So there ya have it, I think the 12 games will bring a 6-6 tie and hopefully the postponed games can be played because the ACC definitely has a shot to win both of those contests. How do you think the games will play out? Send us your predictions on twitter!