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ACC Wins Final Edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Recapping the 2022 ACC/Big Ten Men's Basketball Challenge

The 24th and final edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge saw the Atlantic Coast Conference snap a three-year losing streak to the Big Ten, winning the Challenge by a score of 8-6 for the first time since 2017. 

2022 ACC/Big Ten Challenge: ACC Wins 8-6

Monday, November 28th

Virginia Tech defeats Minnesota 67-57 (ACC 1-0)

Pittsburgh defeats Northwestern 87-58 (ACC 2-0)

Tuesday, November 29th

Maryland defeats Louisville 79-54 (ACC 2-1)

Illinois defeats Syracuse 73-44 (Tied 2-2)

Clemson defeats Penn State 101-94 (2OT) (ACC 3-2)

Iowa defeats Georgia Tech 81-65 (Tied 3-3)

Wake Forest defeats Wisconsin 78-75 (ACC 4-3)

Virginia defeats Michigan 70-68 (ACC 5-3)

Wednesday, November 30th

Miami defeats Rutgers 68-61 (ACC 6-3)

Purdue defeats Florida State 79-69 (ACC 6-4)

Duke defeats Ohio State 81-72 (ACC 7-4)

Notre Dame defeats Michigan State 70-52 (ACC 8-4)

Nebraska defeats Boston College 88-67 (ACC 8-5)

Indiana defeats North Carolina 77-65 (ACC 8-6)

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Read on for a full recap of the 2022 ACC/Big Ten Challenge:

The ACC came into the week as a large underdog in this year's Challenge, as the Big Ten appears to be as deep as ever while the ACC has struggled from top to bottom in non-conference play with just a few exceptions. 

Still, the ACC got off to a good start on Monday night as Virginia Tech protected its home court with a 67-57 win over Minnesota thanks to strong performances from Sean Pedulla (17 points) and Justyn Mutts (16 points and 9 rebounds). 

The real surprise of the opening night of the Challenge was the near 30-point thumping Pitt put on Northwestern on the road. The Panthers had been simply noncompetitive in their two previous games against major conference opponents - an 81-56 loss to West Virginia and a 91-60 loss to Michigan. So, it was pretty shocking when the Panthers knocked down 14 of 22 three-pointers en route to a convincing 87-58 win over the Wildcats, giving the ACC a strong 2-0 start to the Challenge. 

Splitting the six games on Tuesday night was the best the ACC could hope for, as ACC teams were favored in just two of the six contests. As expected, No. 22 Maryland blew out winless Louisville 79-54 as the Cardinals shot under 34% from the floor as compared to 50% for the Terps. Another unsurprising outcome was the 73-44 beatdown by No. 16 Illinois over Syracuse, led by a triple-double from Coleman Hawkins and a 17-point, seven-rebound performance from Terrence Shannon Jr.

Those results tied the Challenge at 2-2, but the ACC would get the better of the Big Ten in three very close ball games later in the night that could've gone either way, beginning with Penn State at Clemson. The Tigers had a chance to seal the win over the Nittany Lions, leading 70-66 with just 12 seconds left, but Clemson missed a free throw to give Penn State a chance and Andrew Funk banked in a three to send the game into overtime. PSU had a lead with less than 15 seconds left in overtime, but PJ Hall muscled his way in for a layup to force a second overtime. The Tigers went on a critical 6-0 run to take control and this time, they hit their free throws down the stretch to seal a 101-94 double-overtime win. 

The Big Ten evened up the score of the Challenge once again as Iowa picked up a comfortable 81-65 win over Georgia Tech, powered by an explosive 31-point, 20-rebound performance from Kris Murray. 

Then came two pivotal games that essentially determined the Challenge. In a back-and-forth affair, Wake Forest made clutch plays down the stretch to pick up a big win at Wisconsin. Cameron Hildreth got to his spot on the baseline and hit a soft floater to put the Demon Deacons ahead by one with 34 seconds left. Wake got a stop and then made a pair of free throws to secure a victory that was as important for Wake Forest as it was for the ACC in the Challenge. 

In the final game of Tuesday night's action, No. 3 Virginia trailed by 11 points at halftime as Michigan drained seven first-half threes and put up 45 points on Tony Bennett's vaunted defense before halftime. UVA tightened up defensively in the second half and held the Wolverines to just two made field goals over the final ten minutes of regulation. Jayden Gardner made the go-ahead jumper with 40 seconds left and then Reece Beekman came up with a big-time steal. A couple of missed free throws left the door open for Michigan, but Beekman and Gardner swarmed Jett Howard and did not allow him to get his three-pointer off as time expired and the Cavaliers escaped Ann Arbor with a gutsy 70-68 win to remain unbeaten. 

Virginia's win gave the ACC a 5-3 lead heading into the third and final day of the Challenge, requiring just a 3-3 split from Wednesday's games to clinch it for the ACC. As it turns out, the ACC got just enough on Wednesday night to win the final edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. 

Rutgers led by as many as 11 points in Coral Gables. But behind big performances from Norchad Omier (17 points, 9 rebounds), Jordan Miller (17 points, 10 rebounds), and Isaiah Wong (16 points, 4 assists), Miami staged a late comeback to take the lead. A dagger three-pointer from Nijel Pack with less than a minute to go put the game away for good as Miami beat Rutgers 68-61. 

Florida State flirted with an upset and played much better than a 1-7 team would be expected to against a top five opponent, but No. 5 Purdue eventually pulled away for a 79-69 win in Tallahassee behind 25 points from Zach Edey. That made the score 6-4 in favor of the ACC. 

A 21-point performance Zed Key helped No. 25 Ohio State give No. 17 Duke a good fight, but the Blue Devils eventually overwhelmed the Buckeyes with five different players scoring in double figures. Duke defeated Ohio State 81-72 to give Jon Scheyer his first big win as head coach of the Blue Devils. That result moved the score to 7-4 ACC, guaranteeing at least a tie in the Challenge for the ACC at worst. 

Given how the last two games ended up playing out, Notre Dame's surprisingly dominant showing against Michigan State was the decisive moment of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Irish, and specifically Cormac Ryan, got hot from beyond the arc early on and built a large lead that they never relinquished. Ryan hit five threes in the first half and finished with 23 points overall. Notre Dame knocked down 11 threes as a team and cruised to a 70-52 win over No. 20 Michigan State. The Fighting Irish had the honors of securing the eighth point to officially clinch the 2022 ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the Atlantic Coast Conference. 

Had Notre Dame not pulled off that win, the Challenge would have ended as a tie. Nebraska rolled over Boston College 88-67 with a strong 61.5% shooting percentage as well as a 52.2% mark from beyond the arc as the Cornhuskers made it rain in Lincoln with 12 threes. Keisei Tominaga was the story of the night for Nebraska, scoring 23 points off the bench. 

In what was largely considered the marquee matchup of the Challenge, No. 10 Indiana outplayed No. 18 North Carolina from start to finish, defeating UNC 77-65 in Bloomington. The Tar Heels have struggled to recover the magic from their March Madness run last season, losing three games in a row, while the Hoosiers have been very impressive early on. Trayce Jackson-Davis won the big-man matchup with Armando Bacot, recording 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Pitt transfer Xavier Johnson had 20 points and eight rebounds. 

Still, the ACC won the 24th and final edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge 8-6, notching the conference's first win in the Challenge since 2017. The ACC finished with a 13-8-3 overall record against the Big Ten in the Challenge, including a 152-127 record across all of the individual games. 

As announced on Monday, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge will be replaced by the ACC/SEC Challenge beginning in the 2023-2024 season.