Bristol, Conn. & Greensboro, N.C. - Two teams from the 2016 Final Four – North Carolina and Syracuse – are among the participants in the 18th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge to be played Monday, Nov. 28 through Wednesday, Nov. 30. The event – in which each conference hosts seven games – matches all 14 Big Ten teams against all but one ACC member. Network assignments and tip times will be announced at a later date.
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 14 games of the event matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioner’s Cup. All 14 games will also be available via WatchESPN.
A total of 10 teams – five from each conference – are ranked in Eamonn Brennan’s ESPN.com early preseason top 25 poll: No. 1 Duke; No. 5 Louisville; No. 6 North Carolina; No. 7 Virginia; No. 8 Indiana; No. 9 Wisconsin; No. 13 Michigan State; No. 14 Maryland; No. 16 Purdue and No. 17 Syracuse.
Two rematches from the 2015 Challenge, No. 17 Syracuse at No. 9 Wisconsin, who played to a 66-58 overtime Badger victory, and Ohio State at No. 7 Virginia, who defeated the Buckeyes 64-58
Four potential top-25 matchups: No. 17 Syracuse at No. 9 Wisconsin; No. 13 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke; No. 6 North Carolina at No. 8 Indiana and No. 16 Purdue at No. 5 Louisville.
Seven games will have first-time Challenge matchups: Wake Forest-Northwestern; Pittsburgh-Maryland; NC State-Illinois; Virginia Tech-Michigan; Purdue-Louisville; Rutgers-Miami and Nebraska-Clemson.
Duke has won more Challenge games than any other team, taking 15-of-17 matchups with its only two losses coming to Wisconsin (2009) and Ohio State (2011).
•Fourteen teams competed in the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship: NCAA runner-up North Carolina; Final Four team Syracuse; Elite Eight teams Notre Dame and Virginia; Sweet 16 teams Duke, Indiana, Maryland, Miami and Wisconsin, as well as early-round participants Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Purdue.
•The Challenge field has nine players ranked in the top 25 of 2016 ESPN Recruiting Nation 100, including four of the top 10: No. 1 Harry Giles (PF, Duke); No. 3 Jayson Tatum (SF, Duke); No. 8 Miles Bridges (SF, Michigan State) and No. 10 Frank Jackson (PG, Duke).
•Duke fields the No. 2-ranked incoming class, Michigan State stands at No. 4, Virginia is No. 8 and Florida State, North Carolina and Miami stand at No. 11, 12 and 13 respectively in the top 15 of the 2016 ESPN Recruiting Nation Class Rankings with a total of 13 programs in the top 30.
2016 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule (networks & times will be announced in August)
Mon, Nov 28
Minnesota at Florida State
Wake Forest at Northwestern
Tues, Nov 29
No. 17 Syracuse at No. 9 Wisconsin
No. 13 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke
Pittsburgh at No. 14 Maryland
Iowa at Notre Dame
Georgia Tech at Penn State
NC State at Illinois
Wed, Nov 30
No. 16 Purdue at No. 5 Louisville
No. 6 North Carolina at No. 8 Indiana
Ohio State at No. 7 Virginia
Virginia Tech at Michigan
Rutgers at Miami
Nebraska at Clemson
The Big Ten captured the Commissioner’s Cup in 2015 and 2014, winning eight of the 14 matchups both years. The two conferences split the previous two events, winning six Challenge games each in 2012 and 2013. The ACC won the first 10 Challenges (1999-2008), while the Big Ten won the next three (2009-2011). In the event of a tie, the Commissioner’s Cup remains with the conference that won the previous year. The ACC holds the 10-5-2 winning record in the previous 17 years.
Noting the ACC:
The ACC is 36-12 (.750) in NCAA Tournament play over the last two seasons, including a 32-8 (.800) mark against non-conference opposition ... ACC teams have met head-to-head four times in NCAA play the last two seasons ... 11 teams have reached the Sweet 16, seven the regional finals, three the Final Four and two the championship game ... the 36 wins is an NCAA Tournament record over a two-year period, 16 more than any other conference, and two more than any other two conferences combined.
NCAA Tournament Progression Chart (2015-2016)
Conferences with at least nine wins
**ACC teams combined to win an NCAA-record 19 NCAA Tournament games in 2016, eclipsing the previous mark of 18 set by the Big East in 1985.
**ACC teams combined to win an NCAA-record 36 NCAA Tournament games the last two years, eclipsing the previous mark of 28 set by the Big East in 2008-09 and the Big Ten in 1999-2000.
**The ACC set an NCAA Tournament record in 2016 by having six teams reach the Sweet 16, breaking the previous record of five set by the ACC in 2015 and the Big East in 2009 ... over the past two years, 11 ACC teams have reached the Sweet 16, six more than any other conference over that span.
**2016 marked the sixth time that two ACC teams reached the Final Four. The conference previously sent two teams in 1981 (North Carolina, Virginia), 1990 (Duke, Georgia Tech), 1991 (Duke, North Carolina), 2001 (Duke, Maryland) and 2004 (Duke, Georgia Tech).
**An ACC-record 11 teams won 20 games or more this past season, including four with 25 or more wins.