Big Ten-ACC Challenge offers intriguing matchups
MAY 12, 2013 7:44p ET
The 2013 Big Ten-ACC challenge may look different, but it doesn't disappoint.
Now, be patient. It might take a second to remember which team is in the ACC, which is in the Big Ten and which just seems like it belongs in neither. And with expansion, it might seem like the 15th annual event between the two leagues would be watered down. But think again. There are plenty of intriguing storylines for the Dec. 3 and 4 games.
Day 1 matchups
Indiana at Syracuse
This one is easy. NCAA TOURNAMENT REMATCH! Syracuse, a No. 4 seed, knocked off No. 1 seed Indiana in the Sweet 16 in March. Syracuse returns more players from last season than does Indiana, but both have major shoes to fill. That won’t stop the rematch narrative. And if people get tired of that, there’s this: Indiana native Ron Patterson signed with Syracuse after originally committing to Indiana in 2012. Patterson’s admissions application was denied by Indiana, but that allowed Indiana to meet the NCAA scholarship limit instead of being one over with Patterson. All that needs to be known is that Patterson thinks Indiana head coach Tom Crean oversigned and that he was the victim.
Michigan at Duke
Two years ago, the documentary “The Fab Five” came out and revealed that Jalen Rose felt Duke recruited only black players that were “Uncle Toms.” It caused a lot of controversy — Duke alum Grant Hill even wrote a response for the New York Times — but ultimately, Duke was 2-0 against the Fab Five. So, scoreboard. But that’s sure to be brought up, especially considering how much that group was mentioned when last season’s Michigan team reached the Final Four. (Did anyone mention that this will be a great game?)
Penn State at Pittsburgh
These teams might be in-state rivals, but they haven’t faced off since 2005 (they used to play every year, until 1982). And that 2005 game went about how you’d think (Pitt won, 91-54). But despite the Panthers’ recent domination (winning the past five meetings against the Nittany Lions) and Penn State’s perceived dominance in football, the Lions actually lead the all-time series on the hardwood, too (though Pitt lists the all-time tally as 75-70 while Penn State boasts its dominance at a more profound 76-68).
Illinois at Georgia Tech
OK, so this one is challenging. Georgia Tech played Illinois close in the Challenge last season before the Illini pulled away late. Illinois is 7-1 all-time against Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech could make a statement for the ACC — and to the ACC, for that matter — if it’s able to win this one. The Yellow Jackets should be better this season, the game is at home, and while the Illini are good, they are beatable.
Notre Dame at Iowa
Iowa and Notre Dame last played in 1990; the game was at Notre Dame and Fran McCaffrey, Iowa’s current head coach,