Big Ten/ACC Challenge Continues to Exist
Like interleague play in Major League Baseball, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge was a cool idea when it was first hatched. These were teams that rarely played one another – partly because nobody was ever willing to schedule non-con games against competent opponents unless it was a neutral court in Maui – and it added some needed spice to the early part of the basketball season when nobody is much interest in Minnesota vs Wofford.
Like anything else, though, once you’ve seen it a few hundred times, the novelty has long worn off and you’ve got Mike Lupica-level hot takes about how nobody cares about Minnesota vs Clemson. While this is probably true, the games still exist because well….I guess because the conferences like it and ESPN likes it. Or maybe it’s one of those “Hey, it’s just what we’ve been doing for a while” things where nobody has the nuts to say “Hey, that’s getting kind of boring…why don’t we do a Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge?” Wouldn’t it be fun to see Nebraska and Texas throw hands? I don’t know. Regardless, the matchups for the 2019 Challenge were released and while we’re technically on our usual spring/summer hiatus from entertaining you, I’m here to give you the BS breakdown of these games. Strap in.
Monday, Dec 2
Miami at Illinois – What better way to kick off December basketball than a Monday night in front of depressed Illini fans? A game of two programs who are the only ones who believe they’re elite.
Clemson at Minnesota – This made me look up Clemson’s basketball history and whoo-boy. They’ve got one NCAA appearance since 2011, they’ve won their conference… *checks notes*…holy sh-t, one time (1990) in something like 87 years of conference play. They also won their conference tourney once…in 1939. So I guess they’re due? Watch out, Minnesota.
Tues, Dec 3
Michigan at Louisville – The matchup of two programs with new coaches trying to maintain a level of excellence their fans somehow still overstate.
Duke at Michigan State – The matchup most likely to produce two coaches lecturing everyone on ethics while either screaming at their players publicly or covering up cheating/assault/you name it. Everybody loses except Dickie V who will conduct an excited, spittle-filled postgame live IG stream where his phone is facing a bookshelf.
Iowa at Syracuse – When you play at Iowa, being able to go on road trips outside of Iowa is probably a major highlight. This time they get to go to Western New York in December. Woof.
Florida State at Indiana – I’m sure Leonard Hamilton and his squad will be warmly welcomed at Assembly Hall. Especially after they lay waste to the home team.
Rutgers at Pitt – Scheduling these two against each other is proof that someone here at least has a sense of humor. Pitt’s conference record the past three years is 7-47; Rutgers over that same span is 13-43. Yeah, that’s 20-90 combined in conference play between these two. Winning isn’t as much a reward as a relief as if you lose to one of these programs, you re-evaluate your coaching staff.
Northwestern at BC – Oh, you thought UM-UL or MSU-Duke was going to be haughty? Well, let me serve you up a plate of rich kid with a side of New England entitlement. This is the kind of game where if the fans scuffle somebody might get strangled with a Burberry scarf.
Weds, Dec 4
Virginia at Purdue – I’m not really ready to talk about this yet but thanks in advance for the highlights, ESPN. Also, I’ll break the face of anyone who uses the “Purdue is out for revenge” line in a promo.
Ohio State at North Carolina – This year’s matchup theme was to pit schools against each other based on how many real classes the athletes actually take. OSU and UNC were natural fits.
Notre Dame at Maryland – Notre Dame should have a special billing like in a movie or TV show since they’re not really part of the ACC cast:
Special Appearance By
A Basketball School
Wisconsin at NC State – It’s the Russell Wilson bowl. Winner gets naked pics of Ciara.
Nebraska at Georgia Tech – Man, they really ramped up one side and down the other with the matchups, cramming all the good meat into the middle. It’s a battle between schools the average person wouldn’t know what conference they belong to.
Wake Forest at Penn State – If not for Pitt-RU, this would be the game everybody pity-cheers for. I’m sure the Penn State faithful will pack the Bryce Jordan mausoleum for such a vaunted opponent.