The artificial construct of a competition aside, I usually enjoy the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, as it's another device through which we get a handful of choice nonconference games each season. It matters not what bragging rights are assigned a league thanks to its ninth-best team beating its counterpart. I just want the good stuff, and the slate of games released today for the 2013 challenge should provide us plenty of that.
Here is the two-day event in its entirety (sorry, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest -- the numbers, and your numbers, didn't work), with some quick commentary.
Tuesday, Dec. 3
Florida State at Minnesota: There's a chance Andrew Wiggins is involved. If he's not, it's still national exposure for Richard Pitino in his debut season in Minneapolis with what should still be a pretty solid Gophers team. Plus, it's The Barn. Good enough.
Illinois at Georgia Tech: A winnable statement-type opportunity for a Yellow Jackets team that should be much improved. I can't sell it all that much better than that, though. Smells like ESPNU.
Indiana at Syracuse: The organizers troll Tom Crean, wanting to see if he can do any better against Syracuse's zone with less talent but seven months of prep. And hey, it's a Syracuse home game! [/tiredjokes]
Michigan at Duke: McGary, Robinson, Parker and two definite Final Four contenders in Cameron? OK, twist our arms. And then call a foul on Michigan.
Notre Dame at Iowa: A really sneakily good game between two quality teams. The Hawkeyes should be in the early part of their breakthrough season and the Irish are still plenty pesky.
Penn State at Pittsburgh: Tim Frazier and a good in-state rivalry game? Good enough for me. This is how you dress up a couple of less-sexy options in an event like this.
Wednesday, Dec. 4
Boston College at Purdue: Early-season pressure check for both programs. This is the type of game Steve Donahue needs to start winning as his roster matures in Chestnut Hill.
Maryland at Ohio State: A future Big Ten preview! And what should be a solid game, although the point guard battle could be unfortunately one-sided between Aaron Craft and, well, whomever is there for the Terps.
Miami at Nebraska: A marquee show for #Nebrasketball's new arena, and a winnable game for the homestanding Huskers against very rebuilding Miami.
North Carolina at Michigan State: Blueblood battle at Breslin. Another game that possibly could include Andrew Wiggins, and will include multiple 2014 lottery picks. Two more Final Four contenders.
Northwestern at North Carolina State: Chris Collins quickly comes back to the Triangle, looking for the kind of nonconference win that can help NCAA tournament resumes. Wisconsin at Virginia: Slow and low, that is the tempo in this rematch of a pretty decent game from last season. Virginia got the upset on the road then. The Badgers have the talent to reciprocate.