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Some ACC-Big Ten Challenge Teams Are More Equal Than Others

How will the ACC do overall though?

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State Farm Champions Classic
Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett will help lead Duke against Indiana in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Hard to believe (or maybe not), this is the 20th year of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Some might call it the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, but a rose by any other name is still a woody perennial flowering plant.

Or a football bowl game, if you’re talking Pasadena. Until the advent of the football playoff, one slot in that New Year’s Day bowl long was reserved for the Big Ten.

Now the Big Ten, which is actually 14, is set to face off with the ACC in a series that’s an annual fixture as November ends. When the faceoff started, the Big Ten had to slim down to nine teams to match the ACC. Now one ACC member, more or less deemed the most feckless of the bunch – Wake, this year -- has to sit out to accommodate the smaller Big Ten, or B1G as the league prefers to fashion itself.

The series, which the ACC leads 12-5-2, or 120-91, starts with two games on Monday night, followed by six each on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The ACC won the first 10 Challenges and the last two.

A majority of ACC programs (eight) have winning records in the Challenge. Purdue, at Florida State on Wednesday, is 10-7 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Nebraska, at Clemson tomorrow night, is 4-3. No other teams from the Big Ten have winning records against the ACC in the series.

Maryland, 10-5 against the Big Ten as an ACC member, is 0-4 against the ACC as a Big Ten school.

Duke, Virginia and Wake Forest are the clear powers in this series, with the Blue Devils leading the way at 17-2. The Devils lost to Wisconsin in 2009 and to Ohio State in 2011, but that’s it.

This is the fifth time Duke faces Indiana in the Challenge, including three of the last four seasons. Keep in mind that, as TV drama goes, Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski’s testy mentor, is long gone from Bloomington.

Besides the Challenge, add 20 league games, as the ACC will play next season, and that doesn’t leave much wiggle room for other major nonconference opponents.

There’s even less flexibility given the in-season tournaments comprised of multiple games in which virtually every ACC team participates, as do members of the Big Ten. Play three times and it’s still counted as one contest in a team’s total allotment, a generous interpretation under contemplation for NCAA reappraisal.

Add the random, traditional rivalry game – this year Wake Forest and Richmond on Dec. 1, Clemson vs. South Carolina and Georgia Tech vs. Georgia on Dec. 22 – and pretty soon basketball schedules will be nearly as inflexible as those in football.

Winning Records by ACC Teams in Challenge Series with Big 10
(Not All Teams Played Equal Number of Games)
Record Win Pct School 2017-18 2018-19 Opponent
17-2 .895 Duke W @ Ind Indiana
12-5 .706 Wake W v Ill Not involved
12-6 .667 Virginia W v. Wisc @Maryland
11-7 .611 Clemson W @ OhSt Nebraska
6-4 .600 Boston College L @ Neb. Minnesota
3-2 .600 Notre Dame L @ MSU Illinois
10-9 .550 UNC W v. Mich @Michigan
6-5 .545 Miami W @ Minn Rutgers

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