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.