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Big Ten Wins ACC/Big Ten Challenge for Third Straight Season

The ACC’s Wednesday night comeback fell short and the Big Ten eventually clinched the Challenge 8-6

The 2021 edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was one of the most competitive and entertaining iterations in the 23-year history of the series. 12 of the 14 games were decided by 10 points or less, including a pair of games decided by one point and three overtime games.

Early on, it looked as if the Big Ten would run away with the victory as Big Ten teams won the first four matchups and seven of the first ten games, but the ACC rallied on the final night of competition on Wednesday and nearly forced a 7-7 tie. Ultimately, the Big Ten clinched the 2021 ACC/Big Ten Challenge 8-6, as Wisconsin held off Georgia Tech in the final game. The ACC still holds a 12-8-3 lead in the Challenge’s history as well as a 144-121 advantage over all of the games played, but the Big Ten won the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the third year in a row.

Here’s the full list of results for this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge: 

2021 ACC/Big Ten Challenge

ResultACC/B1G Score

Iowa 75, Virginia 74

Big Ten 1-0

Illinois 82, Notre Dame 72

Big Ten 2-0

Minnesota 54, Pittsburgh 53

Big Ten 3-0

No. 2 Purdue 93, Florida State 65

Big Ten 4-0

Syracuse 112, Indiana 110 (2OT)

Big Ten 4-1

Rutgers 74, Clemson 64

Big Ten 5-1

Wake Forest 77, Northwestern 73 (OT)

Big Ten 5-2

Ohio State 71, No. 1 Duke 66

Big Ten 6-2

Virginia Tech 62, Maryland 58

Big Ten 6-3

No. 22 Michigan State 73, Louisville 64

Big Ten 7-3

NC State 104, Nebraska 100 (4OT)

Big Ten 7-4

North Carolina 72, No. 24 Michigan 51

Big Ten 7-5

Miami 63, Penn State 58

Big Ten 7-6

No. 23 Wisconsin 70, Georgia Tech 66

Big Ten 8-6

The 2021 ACC/Big Ten Challenge got off to a great start with one of the most exciting games of the college basketball season thus far. Iowa led Virginia by as many as 21 points, but the Cavaliers staged an epic comeback in the second half and even took the lead in the final minute of play. After the teams went back-and-forth with a few clutch shots down the stretch, Joe Toussaint made a jumper off the glass with eight seconds remaining and the Hawkeyes escaped John Paul Jones Arena with a 75-74 victory.

Behind 28 points from Kofi Cockburn and 21 points from Alfonso Plummer, Illinois took down Notre Dame 82-72 to give the Big Ten a 2-0 lead heading into Tuesday’s games.

Pittsburgh nearly knocked off undefeated Minnesota in the first game on Tuesday night, as the Panthers held the Golden Gophers without a field goal for more than five minutes down the stretch. But, Luke Loewe made a putback layup with just 2.4 seconds remaining to give Minnesota a 54-53 victory over the Panthers in Pittsburgh.

Behind five double-digit scorers, The No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers flexed their muscles in a wire-to-wire thrashing of Florida State, 93-65, to give the Big Ten a commanding 4-0 lead in the Challenge.

The ACC finally picked up its first win of the Challenge, as Syracuse defeated Indiana 112-110 in double overtime. The Orange did nearly everything they could to try and lose the game, including blowing an 18-point lead and fouling Indiana’s Miller Kopp on a three-pointer to allow the Hoosiers to tie the game with 7.6 seconds remaining in the second overtime period. Fortunately for Syracuse, Joe Girard was fouled on a drive to the basket and made both free throws with 0.8 seconds on the clock to lift the Orange past the Hoosiers.

The Big Ten immediately got one back as Rutgers outlasted Clemson 74-64 behind a 23-point, 9-rebound performance from Roy Harper Jr.

Then, it was time for another drama-filled overtime game between Wake Forest and Northwestern in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest’s Jake Laravia made a tough fallaway jumper with just five seconds left in overtime to give the Demon Deacons the lead. Then, Laravia stole the ball from Northwestern on the in-bounds to clinch a 77-73 victory for Wake and the ACC.

In the final game of the Tuesday night lineup, newly-minted No. 1 in the country Duke appeared to have its eighth-straight victory to start the season well in hand, as the Blue Devils led Ohio State by as many as 15 points in the second half. Astonishingly, the Buckeyes managed to hold Duke scoreless for the final four and a half minutes of play. E.J. Lidell made a pair of free throws to give Ohio State the lead and then Lidell hit a jump shot to make it 69-66 with 16 seconds left. Paolo Banchero missed the game-tying three-pointer and the Ohio State fans in Columbus stormed the court as the Buckeyes took down the Blue Devils, whose reign as No. 1 in the country will last much shorter than expected after having taken down previous No. 1 Gonzaga in Las Vegas last Friday.

Following Duke’s upset loss, the Big Ten entered the final day of the Challenge with a 6-2 edge and needed just two wins to clinch the victory. In the first meeting between Virginia Tech and Maryland since the Terrapins left the ACC in 2014, the Hokies emerged from College Park with a 62-58 victory behind a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double from Keve Aluma.

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No. 22 Michigan State took care of business with a 73-64 victory over Louisville in East Lansing behind a 15-point performance from Malik Hall off the bench. With the win, the Big Ten took a 7-3 lead and needed just one win to clinch the Challenge. The best the ACC could hope for was to win each of the remaining four games and end the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with a 7-7 draw.

It seemed at many points that Nebraska would be the team to clinch the victory for the Big Ten with a win at NC State. However, neither the Cornhuskers nor the Wolfpack could manage to make the plays to close out the win, as the game went to four overtimes for the first time in the history of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Dereon Seabron scored 39 points, also a record for most points scored in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game, and NC State eventually won the marathon contest in Raleigh 104-100.

A trip to the Dean Dome proved to be too much for the No. 24-ranked Michigan Wolverines, who fell to North Carolina 72-51. Caleb Love hit four threes and scored 22 points for the Tar Heels, who beat Michigan to make it just a 7-5 lead for the Big Ten.

Penn State made a pair of three throws and trailed Miami at home by just two points with 90 seconds remaining. The Nittany Lions forced a missed three on Miami’s ensuing possession, but an offensive board led to a Kameron McGusty three-pointer to put the game on ice, as the Hurricanes went into the Bryce Jordan Center and picked up the 63-58 win.

Miami’s win over Penn State left the fate of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to be decided in the final minutes of the game between No. 23 Wisconsin and Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Two free throws from Michael Devoe, who led all scorers with 33 points, pulled the Yellow Jackets even with the Badgers at 61-61 with 5:27 remaining. The rest of the game was a defensive standoff, with the team’s combining for just two made field goals the rest of the way. With Georgia Tech down just two points with 30 seconds left, Jordan Usher got a great open look from three but missed the shot and Wisconsin won 70-66.

Wisconsin’s win in Atlanta staved off the ACC’s comeback effort and sealed the Big Ten’s third consecutive victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. 

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