ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Duke visits Wisconsin, UNC hosts Iowa
Duke will visit Wisconsin in a battle of potential top-five teams while North Carolina will host Iowa for just the second time as part of the 2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The pairings were announced Thursday by ESPN, which will televise the annual made-for-TV event that is now in its 16th year. Both games will be played on Dec. 3.
No. 2 Duke, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 6 UNC and No. 25 Iowa are all ranked in ESPN’s early preseason top 25.
The Blue Devils’ top two scorers, freshman Jabari Parker and redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, both left early for the NBA, but Duke brings in the nation’s top-rated recruiting class. The Badgers return four starters from a unit that lost in the Final Four to Kentucky.
Duke is 13-2 in the Challenge, posting more wins in the event than any other school, but is just 3-2 in true road games, including a loss at Wisconsin in 2009. The Blue Devils beat Ohio State and Michigan at home in the past two editions of the Challenge. Duke beat Wisconsin at home in 2007 as part of the event.
The Badgers are another addition to a tough non-conference schedule for the Blue Devils, which will face defending champion Connecticut in New Jersey and Michigan State in Indianapolis. Duke will also play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn along with Stanford, Temple and UNLV.
UNC will face Iowa for the first time in the Challenge, and for the first time overall since the Tar Heels beat the Hawkeyes in the championship game of the 2004 Maui Invitational. Iowa’s only prior appearance in the Smith Center was in 1989 as part of a one-time home-and-home series, which the Hawkeyes swept.
UNC is expected to lose just two players — power forward James Michael McAdoo and shooting guard Leslie McDonald — from the 2013-14 team that lost to Iowa State in the Round of 32. Iowa, which also loses two starters, was ranked 15th in the country in mid-February before losing seven of its last eight games, including an NCAA Tournament play-in game against Tennessee.
The Tar Heels’ non-conference schedule also includes a road game at NCAA finalist Kentucky and a meeting with Ohio State in Chicago. UNC will also appear at the Battle 4 Atlantis in a field that includes Wisconsin, Florida, UCLA, Butler and Georgetown.
The ACC won the first 10 Challenges from 1999-2008 before the Big Ten won three straight from 2009-11. The conferences tied 6-6 in 2012 and 2013.
In its first year as a Big Ten school, Maryland will host Virginia on Dec. 3. The Terrapins, who are 10-5 in the Challenge, beat the Cavaliers at home in their final ACC regular-season game this season.
The event also includes N.C. State at Purdue (Dec. 2), Ohio State at Louisville (Dec. 2) in the Cardinals first appearance as a member of the ACC, Syracuse at Michigan (Dec. 2) in a rematch of the 2013 Final Four, and Michigan State at Notre Dame (Dec. 3) in the first meeting between the programs since the Spartans beat the Fighting Irish en route to the 1979 NCAA title.
The other games this year are Nebraska at Florida State and Rutgers at Clemson on Dec. 1; Pittsburgh at Indiana, Illinois at Miami and Minnesota at Wake Forest on Dec. 2; and Georgia Tech at Northwestern and Virginia Tech at Penn State on Dec. 3.
The times and networks — either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU — will be announced in August.