The ACC-Big Ten Challenge lineup for 2013 has been revealed. Even though the Big Ten hasn’t added newcomers Maryland and Rutgers yet, it’s odd to see what expansion has done to this slate of games.
It might take a second to remember which team belongs to the ACC, or Big Ten, and which just seems like it belongs in neither. And with expansion, it might seem like the 15th annual event between the leagues would be somewhat watered down. Think again.
There are still plenty of storylines, some of which will be beaten to death as the games approach, and some of which will likely never be mentioned at all.
Virginia Tech, Clemson and Wake Forest are the teams left out of the event as a result of the ACC having too many teams. And this is a good thing for the league. While those teams were excluded based on last year’s regular-season finish, it’s easy to imagine two, or even all three, will be among the league’s worst teams next year, too.
Two blue-blood programs! Two Hall of Fame coaches! Both teams return almost all of their talent from last year!
North Carolina hasn’t played in East Lansing since November 29, 2000 (Not coincidentally, that’s also the last time Michigan State won a game in the series). The Tar Heels have won seven in a row against the Spartans since, including three in the NCAA Tournament. Roy Williams is 6-0 against Tom Izzo since returning to North Carolina.
Wisconsin at Virginia
If you hate scoring or fast-paced basketball, this is the game for you.
Wisconsin doesn’t like to shoot early in the shot clock. Virginia doesn’t like to, either. Both teams play tough defense. Both clubs like to grind it out at a slow pace. And so the contrarian narrative shall become, If you can’t appreciate this game, you don’t really appreciate basketball.
As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Last year’s matchup wasn’t even the slowest-paced game either team played (not even top-five slowest for Wisconsin), so this likely won’t be a “first to 50 wins” matchup.
Northwestern at North Carolina State
This one is easy to sell. Former Duke assistant coach Chris Collins took the head coaching job at NU a few months ago. However, the Wildcats won’t be very good and there was no justifiable reason to send Northwestern to North Carolina or Duke, both of which should be very good.
So … let’s send ’em to N.C. State, which will be a rebuilding team next year! Raleigh is almost in Durham, right? Close enough.
Maryland at Ohio State
A future Big Ten rivalry! These two teams haven’t played each other since 1985, when Maryland was 19th in the country and unranked Ohio State won, 78-66. No doubt, Maryland will be wanting to exact revenge for that loss.
The late Len Bias had 23 points for the Terrapins, but shot just 8 of 22 from the field. Ohio State made more free throws (26) than Maryland attempted (21). This sort of unfairness is, of course, something Maryland complained about often while in the ACC and it will surely never experience in the Big Ten.
Boston College at Purdue
Fun fact: Boston College is 6-1 in the Challenge, tied with Duke (12-2) for the best winning percentage. Oh, and Notre Dame transfer Alex Dragicevich will be eligible next season for BC. So, there’s an Indiana connection!
Everyone on Purdue’s roster last season is from Indiana, except for Jay Simpson, who’s from Illinois. Everyone. Not a storyline … just strange.
Miami at Nebraska
Congratulations, Miami. You won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles last season, and because you’re not going to be very good this year, your reward is … a trip to Nebraska!
Tim Miles is in his second year as Huskers head coach. Last year, Nebraska went 15-18 (5-13 Big Ten), but that didn’t stop fans from buying every season ticket in the brand-new Pinnacle Bank Arena.
It’s the first time in program history that Nebraska has sold out of its public allotment of season tickets.