When the ACC-Big Ten Challenge slate is released each year, there’s usually a can’t-miss matchup enticing enough to generate interest among casual fans.
This year’s slate appears to be lacking that must-see game.
— The ACC (@theACC) June 8, 2017
ACC co-favorite Duke visiting Indiana is a marquee matchup in name only with the Hoosiers likely headed for a rebuilding year in Archie Miller’s debut. Big Ten favorite Michigan State hosting Notre Dame is a missed opportunity to give the Spartans one of the ACC’s four potential preseason top 10 teams. Louisville-Purdue, North Carolina-Michigan and Miami-Minnesota are all solid games but only the matchup between the Gophers and Hurricanes is likely to pit preseason top 20 teams.
Not pairing Michigan State against Louisville is an especially big missed opportunity. The Spartans will face Duke in the Champions Classic and could meet North Carolina in the title game at the PK80 tournament, but an ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup with the Cardinals would have ensured at least one game between name-brand preseason top 10 teams.
Having maybe the best Northwestern team in school history face middling Georgia Tech is also a swing and a miss.
The Wildcats return the core of a team that not only reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history last year but also won an opening-round game. How compelling would it have been to set up a master-protege matchup between Northwestern coach Chris Collins and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski?
One smart decision organizers made was having Pittsburgh be the lone ACC team left out of the event. The Panthers were decimated by transfers and other defections this offseason and are projected to finish at or near the bottom of the league.
The ACC has won the Challenge 11 times including its victory last year. The Big Ten has five victories and the event has twice ended in a tie in 2012 and 2013. Dates and times for this year’s event will be announced at a later date.
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