It was announced today that NC State got a fun draw in this year’s ACC / Big Ten Basketball Challenge as the Michigan Wolverines will visit PNC Arena on Tuesday, December 1st.
NC State and Michigan have split six previous all-time meetings in the series, which dates back to 1949…and, I’m pretty sure that the two teams are 1-1 in ‘The Challenge’ with each school winning on their home floor when the Wolfpack defeated Michigan in Sidney Lowe’s first season and the Wolverines, led by official Ted Valentine, held off Mark Gottfried’s Wolfpack in November of 2012.
Michigan posted a 16-16 record (8-10 Big Ten) last season and returns each of its top six scorers, led by Caris Levert (14.9 ppg), Zak Irvin (14.3 ppg) and Derrick Walton, Jr. (10.7 ppg).
The rest of the challenge shapes up as follows:
2015 ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Monday, Nov. 30
Clemson at Minnesota
Wake Forest at Rutgers
Tuesday, Dec. 1
Maryland at UNC-Chapel Hill
Virginia at Ohio State
Michigan at NC State
Purdue at Pittsburgh
Northwestern at Virginia Tech
Miami at Nebraska
Wednesday, Dec. 2
Indiana at Duke
Louisville at Michigan State
Notre Dame at Illinois
Wisconsin at Syracuse
Florida State at Iowa
Penn State at Boston College
Tom Dienhart has already offered his rankings of this year’s challenge games in this entry.
1. Maryland at North Carolina, Dec. 1. It won’t get much better than this clash between former ACC rivals. Both teams figure to receive consideration for the preseason No. 1 team. The Tar Heels welcome back a veteran roster from a Sweet 16 team, while the Terps are the Big Ten favorite thanks to Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, super frosh Diamond Stone and Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon, among others.
2. Indiana at Duke, Dec. 2. The Hoosiers are thinking big with the likes of Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams and freshman stud Thomas Bryant. The defending national champ Blue Devils must replace studs Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. But Mike Krzyzewski has plenty of building blocks and a strong group of newcomers paced by McDonald’s All-Americans Chase Jeter and Luke Kennard.
3. Louisville at Michigan State, Dec. 2. Travis Trice and Branden Dawson are gone from MSU’s surprise Final Four team. No biggie. Big things are expected this year with Denzel Valentine and WVU transfer Eron Harris heading a loaded roster that welcomes a nice collection of recruits led by Deyonta Davis. Rick Pitino has a lot of holes to fill: Montrezl Harrell, Anton Gill, Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier—all gone. U of L will have to be fueled by stud freshmen like Deng Adel, Raymond Spaulding and Donovan Mitchell.
4. Wisconsin at Syracuse, Dec. 2. The Orange will miss Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough. But Jim Boeheim has a deep roster, led by one of the deepest backcourts in the nation. The Badgers are coming off consecutive Final Fours. What will be the encore without Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser? Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig are great cornerstones for irrepressible Bo Ryan.
5. Michigan at N.C. State, Dec. 1. The Wolverines took a step back last season, largely due to season-ending injuries to Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr., but look poised for big things in 2015-16. LeVert and Walton Jr. are back, in addition to Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman. Mark Gottfried has another NCAA-caliber team even with Trevor Lacey off to the NBA. Is there a better point man in the ACC than Anthony Barber? WVU transfer Terry Henderson is a keeper. And NC State has some nice young big men.