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The 16th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, played over three days from December 1-3, will be highlighted by an expanded format of 14 games – two more than previous Challenges.
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 14 games of the three-day event matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioners Cup. All 14 games will also be available via WatchESPN.
Three of the games will feature a showdown between teams ranked in an ESPN.com early preseason top 25 poll: No. 2 Duke at No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 25 Iowa at No. 6 North Carolina and No. 21 Syracuse at No. 24 Michigan. Additional teams in the Challenge that made the poll include No. 7 Virginia, No. 8 Louisville and No. 18 Michigan State.
Following last year’s 6-6 tie, the ACC now holds a 10-3-1 advantage in Challenge play. In the event of a tie, the Commissioners Cup remains with the conference that won the previous year, which was the Big Ten in 2011. The ACC won the first 10 Challenges (1999-2008) while the Big Ten won the next three (2009-2011).
ACC teams hold an 88-67 lead in Challenge games played to date.
2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule (times and networks will be announced in August):
Monday, December 1
Nebraska at Florida State
Rutgers at Clemson
Tuesday, December 2
No. 21 Syracuse at No. 24 Michigan
Ohio State at No. 8 Louisville
Pittsburgh at Indiana
NC State at Purdue
Illinois at Miami
Minnesota at Wake Forest
Wednesday, December 3
No. 2 Duke at No. 4 Wisconsin
No. 18 Michigan State at Notre Dame
No. 25 Iowa at No. 6 North Carolina
No. 7 Virginia at Maryland
Georgia Tech at Northwestern
Virginia Tech at Penn State
Rankings denote ESPN early preseason poll
• Tourney Teams: 13 teams from the two conferences played in the 2014 NCAA Championship: Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Virginia from the ACC, and Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin from the Big Ten.
• First Challenge Matchups: Nine of the 14 games will mark first-time Challenge matchups including Syracuse at Michigan, Michigan State at Notre Dame, Iowa at North Carolina, Pittsburgh at Indiana, Illinois at Miami (Fla.) and Nebraska at Florida State, plus three involving a new member of one of the conferences: Rutgers (at Clemson) and Maryland (against former ACC foe Virginia) in the Big Ten and Louisville (against Ohio State) in the ACC.
• Michigan and Syracuse last met in a 2013 National Semifinal game from Atlanta, with the Wolverines defeating the Orange 61-56.
• Michigan State and Notre Dame will meet for the first time in 35 years. The Spartans defeated the Irish 80-68 in the Regional Finals on its way to the 1979 National Championship.
• In addition to first-time Challenge games, several of the teams are infrequent opponents: Iowa has won two of its three matchups against North Carolina, despite losing the last meeting in 2004; Illinois and Miami (Fla.) have split their two previous meetings, with the Hurricanes winning the last contest in 2012; Florida State holds a 1-0 record over Nebraska with a victory in 2005; and Clemson will look to go 2-0 against Rutgers after a win in 1999.
• The Pittsburgh at Indiana and Ohio State at Louisville matchups will mark the ninth all-time meeting between the programs with each team winning four games in the respective series.
• Seconds Please: Pittsburgh and Syracuse – two of the three ACC members that played in the Challenge for the first time last season – will look for a second consecutive win in the event (Pittsburgh defeated Penn State and Syracuse beat Indiana).
• A First at 16: Maryland will appear in its first Challenge as a member of the Big Ten after playing in the previous 15 events with the ACC, compiling a 10-5 record. Maryland will host Virginia in the Challenge.
• Rubber Match: Duke and Wisconsin will square off in the Challenge for the third time with each winning one game, both as the home team (Duke in 2007 and Wisconsin in 2009).
• Three’s a Charm: Northwestern and NC State will look for a three-peat over their 2014 Challenge opponents with the Wildcats defeating Georgia Tech in 2010 and 2011 and Wolfpack beating Purdue in 1999 and 2004.
• Looking for 14: Duke has won more Challenge games than any other team, taking 13 of its 15 matchups with its only two losses coming to Wisconsin and Ohio State.
• Second Time Around: Minnesota and Wake Forest and Virginia Tech and Penn State will play each other in the Challenge for the second time. Wake Forest (in 2001) and Penn State (in 2007), the home teams in the first meeting as well, won the games.
• At least one ranked team has played in 77 of the 155 Challenge games played to date ... 32 games have had both teams ranked ... in the 2001 game between Michigan State and Virginia that was cancelled because of a slippery floor, both teams were ranked.