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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Ranking the Big Ten/ACC Challenge games from most to least watchable

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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North Carolina and Indiana are meeting for the first time since 2005 (AP)

ESPN announced the schedule for next season's Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Monday. Here's a look at each of the games ranked from 1 to 12.

1. North Carolina at Indiana (Nov. 27): The crown jewel of next year's slate pits a pair of blue bloods who haven't faced each-other since 2005. It's a shame it comes one year late for Tyler and Cody Zeller to face one-another, but this will still be a chance to gauge how viable a title contender North Carolina will be despite the loss of four likely first-round draft picks.

2. NC State at Michigan (Nov. 27): What better opportunity for these two preseason top 10 teams to establish themselves as legitimate Final Four contenders than to play each other in November? Michigan blends a vaunted freshman class with returning stars Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. NC State returns the core of a surprise Sweet 16 team and adds top recruits Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis.

3. Ohio State at Duke (Nov. 28): The last time Ohio State met Duke, the Buckeyes stormed to an 11-0 lead and never wavered, winning 85-63 in Columbus last November. It probably won't be as lopsided this year with the Buckeyes traveling to Durham and losing Jared Sullinger to the NBA and William Buford to graduation.

4. Minnesota at Florida State (Nov. 27): With Trevor Mbakwe back for a sixth year and Rodney Williams, Austin Hollins and Julian Welch all returning as well, Minnesota may be primed to return to the NCAA tournament next March. Winning at Florida State would be an early confidence booster, but it won't be easy because the Seminoles' always-stingy interior defense will be tough to crack.

5. Michigan State at Miami (Nov. 28): Miami narrowly missed the NCAA tournament last March because it lacked enough quality wins. With guard Durand Scott and big men Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji all back for their senior years, the 'Canes will have an opportunity to land a big early win against a Michigan State team headlined by guard Keith Appling and big man Derrick Nix.

6. Virginia at Wisconsin (Nov. 28): What this one will surely lack in points it will make up for with an intriguing storyline. Tony Bennett, who played at Wisconsin Green Bay and began his coaching career under his father at Wisconsin, will return to the Kohl Center sidelines as head coach of Virginia.

7. Iowa at Virginia Tech (Nov. 27): Only twice has Virginia Tech managed to win a game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge: In 2006 and 2009, both against Iowa. The Hokies will get a chance to pull off a hat trick, but it won't be easy because the Hawkeyes return five of their top six scorers from last year's NIT team.

8. Purdue at Clemson (Nov. 28): Clemson lost its top scorers from a team that already wasn't very good at putting the ball in the basket and Milton Jennings is the only returner with any size. If Purdue was going to draw a road game this season, the Boilermakers should feel fortunate they got a winnable one.

9. Maryland at Northwestern (Nov. 27): Northwestern is probably a year removed from its best chance to make its first-ever NCAA tournament. Maryland is probably a year away from returning to national relevance. As a result, this matchup doesn't really move the needle, though it does represent an early chance to see if Terrapins sophomore Nick Faust can emerge as his team's go-to perimeter threat.

10. Georgia Tech at Illinois (Nov. 28): There are years when a matchup between the Yellowjackets and Illini would have been a must-see game. Next year? Probably not. Both Georgia Tech and Illinois are rebuilding.

11. Nebraska at Wake Forest (Nov. 27): Since last year's snoozefest between the Cornhuskers and Demon Deacons was such a thriller, the good folks at ESPN decided to give us a rematch. Perhaps Wake Forest takes some baby steps forward this season and maybe Tim Miles can one day succeed at Nebraska, but this game won't prove much either way.

12. Boston College at Penn State (Nov. 28): Here's the most damning indictment of the worst game on the Big Ten-ACC slate: It's less watchable than Nebraska-Wake Forest. Anyone who makes it through more than five minutes of this one either needs a social life or a medal of valor.

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