For a decade, this famed early-season battle really was the ACC Showcase And-Oh-By-The-Way-The-Big-Ten-Plays-Too Challenge.
For the past three years, the Midwesterners have flipped the script on their East Coast rivals.
The Big Ten will try to continue its recent dominance in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge starting Nov. 27. Iowa-Virginia Tech and Minnesota-Florida State tip off the event, while North Carolina-Indiana (Tuesday) and Ohio State-Duke (Wednesday) are the two-night marquee matchups. As has been the norm, every game will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.
Here’s the schedule, and my two cents on each game. I suppose I’ll be the first to actually make picks (in bold), too. (Rankings are based on ESPN's early preseason Top 25.)
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27
IOWA at Virginia Tech, ESPNU, 7:15 p.m.: All the Hawkeyes have talked about was a strong non-conference run. This is their highest-profile chance.
No. 25 MINNESOTA at Florida State, ESPN2, 7:15 p.m.: This could be Tubby’s finest season in Minneapolis. A road win in the ACC typically portends success.
No. 6 NC State at No. 5 MICHIGAN, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.: What it lacks in name branding, it makes up for in spades in the competitive arena. Great, great game at Crisler.
NEBRASKA at Wake Forest, ESPNU, 9:15 p.m.: Rematch of last year, when the Demon Deacons edged the Huskers 55-53 in Lincoln. First Nebraska year under Tim Miles.
Maryland at NORTHWESTERN, ESPN2, 9:15 p.m.: Many believe the Wildcats can break their NCAA tournament drought this year. It feels like we’ve heard those words before …
No. 13 North Carolina at No. 1 INDIANA, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.: Assembly Hall should sound like a library on this night. You know, except the complete opposite.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28
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Virginia at No. 22 WISCONSIN, ESPN2, 7 p.m.: Tony Bennett pits the Cavaliers against the team his dad took to the Final Four. First to 40 wins!
PURDUE at Clemson, ESPNU, 7:15 p.m.: Would you believe Clemson (9-4) is one of the most successful teams historically in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge? The Boilermakers are rebuilding, for a change.
No. 9 MICHIGAN STATE at Miami (Fla.), ESPN, 7:30 p.m.: Miami made great strides last season. We’ll see if its loaded senior class can stand up to Sparty.
Georgia Tech at ILLINOIS, ESPN2, 9 p.m.: One of the first big-time games in the John Groce era. Tech offers a fairly cushy matchup.
Boston College at PENN STATE, ESPNU, 9:15 p.m.: The Eagles are notoriously solid against the Big Ten. Tim Frazier could definitely win this by himself, though.
No. 8 OHIO STATE at No. 15 Duke, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.: No more Sullinger, no more William Buford, no more Austin Rivers. Some of the big names are gone, but we’ve still got Thomas and Craft vs. Curry and the Plumlees.
My pick: Big Ten wins 7-5