Defending Division I men’s college basketball national champion Duke as well as 2015 Final Four participants Wisconsin and Michigan State are among the teams in this season’s 17th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge from November 30 to December 2.
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.
Overall, the Challenge includes:
Early attention: Nine programs ranked in an ESPN.com early preseason top 25 poll, highlighted by four of the top seven: No. 2 North Carolina, No. 4 Maryland, No. 5 Virginia, No. 7 Duke, No. 12 Michigan State, No. 13 Notre Dame, No. 14 Indiana, No. 21 Louisville and No. 25 Wisconsin. Three of the games will pit teams in the early rankings against each other: No. 4 Maryland at No. 2 North Carolina, No. 14 Indiana at No. 7 Duke and No. 21 Louisville at No. 12 Michigan State.
Recent Success: Thirteen teams that played in the 2015 NCAA Championship: Duke, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia from the ACC, and Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin from the Big Ten.
The Big Ten captured the Commissioner’s Cup last season, winning eight of the 14 matchups. The two conferences split the previous two events, winning six Challengegames 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.
[callout2]2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule (times and networks will be announced in August):[/callout2]
Monday, Nov 30
Clemson at Minnesota
Wake Forest at Rutgers
Tuesday, December 1
No. 4 Maryland at No. 2 North Carolina
No. 5 Virginia at Ohio State
Michigan at NC State
Purdue at Pittsburgh
Northwestern at Virginia Tech
Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska
Wednesday, December 2
No. 14 Indiana at No. 7 Duke
No. 21 Louisville at No. 12 Michigan State
No. 13 Notre Dame at Illinois
No. 25 Wisconsin at Syracuse
Florida State at Iowa
Penn State at Boston College
First Challenge Matchups:
Eight of the 14 games will mark first-time Challenge matchups: Maryland at North Carolina, Wisconsin at Syracuse, Purdue at Pittsburgh, Louisville at Michigan State, Virginia at Ohio State, Notre Dame at Illinois, Wake Forest at Rutgers and Northwestern at Virginia Tech.
Louisville has won five of its nine games against Michigan State, but lost to the Spartans 76-70 in last year’s Elite Eight.
This season’s Illinois and Notre Dame matchup will mark the 40th meeting between the programs ever, but the first since 2003. Illinois leads the series 26-13.
In addition to first-time Challenge games, several of the teams are infrequent opponents: Syracuse won two of its three matchups against Wisconsin, including a 64-63 Sweet Sixteen victory in the 2012 Championship; Ohio State and Virginia will meet for the fifth time ever and the first since 1981, which also marked the only time the Cavaliers beat the Buckeyes; and Purdue has won six of the 10 games against Pittsburgh, including the last meeting in 1977.
In addition to meeting in the Challenge for the first time, Wake Forest at Rutgers and Northwestern at Virginia Tech will also be the first game between the programs ever.
Looking for 15:
Duke has won more Challenge games than any other team, taking 14 of its 16 matchups with its only two losses coming to Wisconsin (2009) and Ohio State (2011).
Boston College and Penn State will square off in the Challenge for the third time with each winning one game, both as the road team (Penn State in 2011 and Boston College in 2012).
Three’s A Charm:
Duke will look for a third Challenge victory over Indiana after defeating the Hoosiers in 2005 and 2006.
• Seven of the last 15 NCAA Basketball Championships have been won by teams currently competing in the ACC … the American Athletic Conference and the SEC are tied for second with three titles each.
• With 582 wins among its 15 current members, the ACC is the all-time winningest conference in NCAA Tournament annals … North Carolina is second all-time to Kentucky (120) with 112 NCAA Tournament victories, Duke is third (105), Louisville (75) sixth, and Syracuse (61) eighth.
• Teams currently in the ACC have combined to win 16 NCAA National Championships … Duke and North Carolina each have five national titles, followed by Louisville (3), NC State (2), and Syracuse (1).
• At least one ranked team has played in 84 of the 169 Challenge games played to date … 36 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.
ESPN “Looking Ahead” Series:
ESPN.com launched its “Looking Ahead” series of previews for each team in a Power 5 conference plus programs outside the Power 5 who could make noise on the national stage with Duke on April 13. ESPN.com will continue with a new post examining what comes next for each team every day until July 8. A hyperlink to the preview for eachChallenge team that has been posted is below. The scheduled date for the remaining teams is included.