The year was 2000-01, and the Big Ten got together with the ACC to put together one of the showcase events of college basketball's non-conference schedule. The Big Ten-ACC challenge has been played each year since, with conference schools playing each other for a total of nine matchups. With the ACC now expanded to twelve members, there will be 11 games in this year's event. All Big Ten schools will get to play a game, and only Boston College will be excluded on the ACC side.
The event has not been kind to the Big Ten thus far, with the powers from Tobacco Road having won it all five years. This year's Challenge will run from Monday to Wednesday of the coming week and nine of the eleven games in this made-for-TV drama will be on either ESPN or ESPN2.
Top-ranked Duke visits #21 Indiana on Wednesday night (8 CST, ESPN) in what looks to be the best matchup. The Devils and Hoosiers are linked in history, as Mike Krysweski worked as an IU assistant under Bob Knight before becoming the head coach at Army, and later moving on to Durham where he would become what I would argue is the best college basketball coach in history. Tuesday night will feature a rematch of last year's NCAA final, with Illinois visiting North Carolina (8 CST, ESPN). The Illini are ranked #14, and the defending champion Tar Heels are actually unranked. Heavy graduation losses have relegated Roy Williams' team to the "others receiving votes" scrap heap. While Illinois will be out for revenge (as small a consolation as that may be), North Carolina will be hungry for respect. This will be the second time the Challenge has featured a title-game rematch. In 2002 Indiana got belated revenge on Maryland.
The Challenge opens on Monday with a battle between Virginia Tech and Ohio State--ironically between two schools whose football teams could end up squaring off in the Orange Bowl. The rest of the listings are below.
Monday--Virginia Tech @ Ohio State (6:30 CST, ESPN2)
Tuesday--Wisconsin at Wake Forest (6 CST, ESPN), Purdue at Florida State (6:30 CST, ESPN2), Clemson at Penn State (7 CST, ESPNU), Illinois at North Carolina (8 CST, ESPN), Miami at Michigan (8:30 CST, ESPN2).
Wednesday--Georgia Tech at Michigan State (6 CST, ESPN), Minnesota at Maryland (6:30 CST, ESPN2), Northwestern at Virginia (7 CST, ESPNU), Duke at Indiana (8 CST, ESPN), N.C. State at Iowa (8:30 CST, ESPN2)