If a potential showdown between North Carolina and Ohio State would have been the best possible Big Ten-ACC challenge matchup, the slate ESPN did announce on Tuesday is at the very least a nice consolation prize.
Duke will visit Ohio State on Nov. 29 in a matchup of likely preseason top-five teams. North Carolina will host Big Ten contender Wisconsin the following night. And Florida State-Michigan State, Michigan-Virginia and Miami-Purdue highlight an intriguing list of secondary games.
The middle tier of both the Big Ten and ACC appears to be very muddled entering the new season, so next year's event will represent an early opportunity for some of those teams to distinguish themselves. The ACC leads the overall series history 10-2, but the Big Ten's lone two victories came in the most recent challenges.
The Duke-Ohio State matchup may be the most anticipated of the 12 games because the two national powers haven't shared a court very often. The Blue Devils defeated the Buckeyes 91-76 in the 2002 ACC challenge to take a slim 3-2 advantage in the series, but that's the only time the teams have met since 1978.
What will be appealing about the matchup between Wisconsin and North Carolina will likely be the contrast in styles. The run-and-gun Tar Heels will probably be looking to push the pace in front of their home fans, whereas potential preseason All-American point guard Jordan Taylor will surely slow the tempo to a crawl and reduce the number of possessions in the game.
There are other intriguing storylines outside of the two marquee games.
Nebraska will make its challenge debut against Wake Forest in its first year in the Big Ten, enabling all 12 ACC teams to participate for the first time. Rebuilding Boston College will try to keep its undefeated record in the event intact when it hosts Penn State. And Georgia Tech and Northwestern will stage the lone rematch from last year when the Wildcats dusted the Yellowjackets 91-71.