2021 Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule: Duke-Ohio State, Michigan-North Carolina among games, storylines to watch

The docket for the 2021 Big Ten/ACC Challenge dropped Monday, giving college basketball fans a sneak peek of what to expect when the two conferences tangle in a three-day spree of action early this basketball season. The challenge will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 — a Monday through Wednesday — and feature a few high-profile clashes as the ACC looks to win the challenge for the first time since 2017.

Highlighting the slate are Iowa at Virginia (Nov. 29), Duke at Ohio State (Nov. 30), Louisville at Michigan State (Dec. 1) and Michigan at North Carolina (Dec. 1). The Big Ten won the annual series 7-5 in 2020 and 8-6 in 2019. The leagues tied the 2018 challenge 7-7.

The ACC’s last victory was a decisive 11-3 run through the 2017 challenge, but the Big Ten’s national profile has continued to rise since then. Here’s a look at the schedule in full with some key storylines to watch. 

2021 Big Ten/ACC Challenge 

TV info and tip times will be released at a later date.

Monday, November 29
Iowa at Virginia
Notre Dame at Illinois

Tuesday, November 30
Clemson at Rutgers
Duke at Ohio State
Florida State at Purdue
Minnesota at Pitt
Indiana at Syracuse
Northwestern at Wake Forest

Wednesday, December 1
Wisconsin at Georgia Tech
Louisville at Michigan State
Miami at Penn State
Michigan at North Carolina
Nebraska at NC State
Virginia Tech at Maryland

Hawkeyes vs. Cavaliers: Contrasting styles

Iowa’s offense finished the 2020-21 season ranked No. 5 nationally in points per game at 83.7 and was fifth nationally in 3-point percentage at 38.6%. It should get a stellar test on the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge when they play at Virginia. The Cavaliers are annually one of the nation’s top defensive teams under coach Tony Bennett and will be looking to make an early-season statement after getting bounced in the first round of the 2020 NCAA Tournament by No. 13 seed Ohio.

Though the Hawkeyes are losing Naismith Player of the Year and star offensive player Luka Garza after a storied career, they still figure to remain a potent offensive team. A strong showing on the road against a vaunted ACC defense would be a sign that Iowa is still a national force even in Garza’s absence. 

Blue Devils vs. Buckeyes: Out with a bang for Coach K?

Since the ACC/Big Ten Challenge’s inception for the 1999 season, Duke has been a dominant force in the event with a 19-3 all-time record. It’s the best record of any team in the series both in terms of winning percentage and total victories. However, the Blue Devils should be tested as they try and send out coach Mike Krzyzewski with a final victory in the event.

Both teams are in the top-10 of Gary Parrish’s Top 25 and 1 as things stand now, and the game could end up as one of the marquee non conference games of the season. The last time they met was in 2012 when Duke emerged with a 73-68 victory in a battle of top-five teams. However, that game was played at Cameron Indoor Stadium. This time, the Blue Devils will have to win on the road.

Spartans vs. Cardinals: Recovering powers

Both Louisville and Michigan State endured disappointing 2020-21 seasons by the historic standards of their programs. The Cardinals narrowly missed a bid to the 2021 NCAA Tournament, and Michigan State was eliminated during the First Four after leading by 11 against UCLA at halftime. Each will be looking for an early boost when they square off on the final day of the challenge. Louisville leads the all-time series 6-5.

Tar Heels vs. Wolverines: A new-age clash

It wasn’t long ago that Michigan and North Carolina were led by a pair of college basketball coaching titans in Roy Williams (North Carolina) and John Beilein (Michigan). But when the play in what should be the headline matchup of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge’s final day, new eras for both programs will be on display.

Both programs are now led by former longtime NBA players. For first-year North Carolina coach Hubert Davis, the game will represent an excellent early opportunity to score a signature victory against a team that secured a No. 1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament. For Michigan and coach Juwan Howard, the game will be an opportunity to go on the road in front of a national TV audience and show that the Wolverines are truly cemented as a top national power.


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